Evangelicals disappointed at lack of Catholic leadership on homosexuality push in Ontario schools
HALTON, Ontario, January 26, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Evangelicals have expressed disappointment at the apparent collapse of the Ontario Catholic Church in the face of pressure from homosexual activists, who successfully lobbied a Catholic school board last week to scrap a pro-family equity policy that included explicit wording to prevent instruction that undermines Church teaching on homosexuality.
“It seems to me that [the Roman Catholic Church] is being co-opted before our very eyes, as illustrated by this recent event,” said Royal Hamel, an Evangelical minister. “I view this with no small degree of alarm, ... because the Roman Catholic is one of the last few remaining bulwarks against the deluge.”
Phil Lees, a Protestant who leads Ontario’s Family Coalition Party and runs Public Education Advocates for Christian Equality (PEACE), which aims to help families make faith-based educational choices, said the Halton Catholic board’s collapse is a blow to traditional families in the public system.
Meeting in a room packed with dozens of homosexual activists January 18, the trustees at the Halton Catholic District School Board voted 6-2 to scrap a pro-family equity policy that had been passed in November by the previous board. The policy was targeted by gay activists over its ban of gay-straight alliances.
The day before the vote, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Hamilton said the issue should be handled strictly at the school board level.
“This is an issue entirely for the school board - the teachers, the trustees and the parents and all the parties concerned are those who have to make those decisions,” Monsignor Vincent Kerr, spokesman for Bishop Douglas Crosby, told the Burlington Post. “It’s not a question of the bishop making a decision for a publicly-funded board; they should be making the decision themselves and standing by it.”
According to Lou Piovesan, general secretary of the Assembly of Catholic Bishop of Ontario, speaking to Canada’s homosexualist newspaper Xtra! last Wednesday, “The bishops don’t dictate to the school boards; they give advice.”
“This office has no jurisdiction over school boards,” he continued. “The Bishops of Ontario give advice to school boards on various matters pertaining to morality and faith and religious education programs.”
Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto issued a statement on behalf of the Ontario bishops on January 14th, four days before the vote. “The bishops of Ontario agree with a January 13, 2011 Globe and Mail editorial when it says, ‘It is not for the Church, by itself, to run Catholic education in Ontario,’” said the statement. “There are numerous partners involved in the formation of our young people, all playing critical roles in the educational journey: teachers, administrators, parents, trustees, government, etc.”
“In our publicly funded Catholic schools, however, as bishops it is our role to help to weave the thread of faith in our schools by offering guidance, as well as pastoral leadership and support, to our partners in Catholic education on a host of issues relating to the faith foundation of our schools,” it added.
Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholics insisted that the Bishops have a special duty to ensure that Catholic education is faithful to the Church’s teachings, pointing to a 2009 instruction from the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education.
“The whole Christian community, and particularly the diocesan Ordinary, bear the responsibility ‘of arranging everything so that all the faithful have a Catholic education’ and, more precisely, of having ‘schools which offer an education imbued with a Christian spirit’,” the document reads. “Catholic schools are characterised by the institutional link they keep with the Church hierarchy, which guarantees that the instruction and education be grounded in the principles of the Catholic faith and imparted by teachers of right doctrine and probity of life.”
Minister Royal Hamel told LifeSiteNews, “I am very disappointed ... because for a long time what I’ve seen happening is that the only ones who have been willing to take a stand and hold the line for Biblical truth and morality with respect to this whole issue of homosexuality and what the Bible teaches has been the Roman Catholic Church.”
“It’s disappointing, and it’s going to make it even more difficult for families in the public school system who are asking that their faith be respected, and not be part of lessons that contradict our values,” explained Lees. “The response from the public school system is ‘Well, the Catholic school’s doing it.’”
“I think it’s disappointing that we can’t get the bishops to really have a look at what the concerns are,” Lees added. “They seem to be depending on the [Institute for Catholic Education].”
Tim Bloedow, executive director of ChristianGovernance, a think-tank dedicated to promoting public policy that aligns with Christian faith, said it was “disappointing” that the board “buckled to homosexualist pressure,” adding that this was “yet another example of how homosexualists use intimidation tactics instead of science and reason to advance their agenda.”
“How is the Catholic school board going to hold the line against sexual propaganda that violates the best interests of their students now that they have terminated their pro-family equity policy?” he asked.
“If Halton Catholic school board trustees are not prepared to provide the protection students need, then their parents should think more seriously about other options such as home schooling,” added Bloedow.
Former Halton Catholic trustee Joanne Matters, who was involved in passing the pro-family policy in November, expressed disappointment with the returning Halton trustees who switched their vote. “I’m not sure what has changed for them except a storm of pressure and, quite frankly, bullying, from gay activists and their sympathizers, and folks who just don’t understand Catholic teaching in this area,” she said.
“I wonder about the relevance of a Catholic institution that caves to the popular culture whose beliefs and practices run counter to that which defines the Catholic identity of the institution in the first place,” she added.
LifeSiteNews did not hear back from the Diocese of Hamilton by press time.