Peter Baklinski


‘Faithful dissent’? Catholic school board sponsors lecture on how to oppose Church moral teachings

Peter Baklinski

Update: The Diocese of Hamilton gave a brief comment after press time, which we have added to the story.

KITCHENER, Ontario, February 11, 2014 ( – An Ontario Catholic school board sponsored a lecture last week focused on how Catholic schools can “value … faithful dissent” as a way of opposing Catholic teaching on “ordination, homosexuality, and contraception.”

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board sponsored Graham McDonough, PhD, to speak at St. Jerome’s University (SJU) Friday night as part of the University’s lecture series on “Catholic Experience.”

“Catholic schools often find themselves dealing with disagreements with Church teaching on topics such as ordination, homosexuality, and contraception as well as with complaints that schools are not properly teaching doctrine,” reads a description of the lecture, titled “Faithful Disagreement: an opportunity for rediscovery in Catholic education.”

"This lecture proposes that Catholic schools can do more to include and nurture internal disagreement as a powerful opportunity to embrace intellectual diversity, learn the value of faithful dissent and enable greater participation in the Church and the world.”

McDonough, an assistant professor of education and an associate fellow at the Centre for Studies in Religion and Society at the University of Victoria, released a book in 2012 titled Beyond Obedience and Abandonment: Toward a Theory of Dissent in Catholic Education.

Publisher McGill-Queen's University Press describes the book as a proposal for “Catholic schools [to] embrace dissent as a powerful opportunity for rediscovery in the Church.”

McDonough writes in his book that he offers a “theoretical basis upon which argument for a dissent-founded reform of Catholic Education theory can be made,” calling the “story of dissent” a “traditional Canadian Catholic behavior and experience.”

McDonough draws heavily on dissident theologians Profs. Thomas Groome and Gregory Baum. Both are laicized priests, and Baum is called by some Canada’s leading dissenter since the 1960s.

Jack Fonseca of Campaign Life Catholics called it “diabolical” to have a Catholic school board sponsor a lecture on dissent.

“This is all a charade,” he said. “The description of the lecture seems to call for outright revolt against teachings that constitute unchangeable Catholic doctrine.”

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“It’s an attempt to overthrow Catholic teaching from inside the Church. These dissident types are too dishonest to admit they already left the Church, since doing so would end their demolition agenda.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church, the official compendium of Catholic doctrine, defines heresy as the “obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith.”

Fonseca said that it is impossible to oppose Catholic moral doctrine and, at the same time, be considered a faithful Catholic.

“You can’t. How can one be both unfaithful and faithful at the same time? It’s not possible.”

Fonseca said “heads should roll” at the board for approving the lecture.

“Catholic schools do not exist to nurture in children ‘internal disagreement’ with the teachings of the Church, nor to help them value ‘dissent’ of any sort from Church doctrine. Jesus prayed that his followers would be one. That means unity in heart and belief,” he said.

The Waterloo Catholic District School Board did not respond to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment by press time.

Pam Aleman, spokesperson for the Diocese of Hamilton, told LifeSiteNews that Bishop Douglas Crosby was unavailable for comment. She directed concerns to St. Jerome's University.

Contact info:

Most Reverend Douglas Crosby, Bishop of Hamilton
Phone: (905) 528-7988 x2222
Email using online form here.

Larry Clifford, Director of Education
Waterloo Catholic District School Board
(519) 578-3660
[email protected]

Manuel da Silva, Chair
Waterloo Catholic District School Board
(519) 578-3660  
[email protected]

Contact members of the Board of Trustees here.

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