TORONTO – Thousands of concerned Catholic parents, a few Catholic school boards, and Ontario’s bishops were not enough to convince the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) to back off of their decision to march in Toronto’s WorldPride parade Sunday.
“Today Catholic Teachers look forward to walking with our Sisters & Brothers in support of a world free from homophobia,” OECTA president James Ryan tweeted prior to the parade.
“This behaviour by OECTA's leadership and some teachers only motivates us and our supporters even more to get involved in these elections and make a difference.”
The Catholic teachers union marched in the parade with a blue banner displaying their name. Some held signs that read: “Proud to be a Catholic teacher.”
Teresa Pierre, president of Parents As First Educators (PAFE), called OECTA's participation in the pro-homosexual event — in which an estimated 12,000 people marched — a “low point in the life of the Church in Ontario” on account of the parade promoting what she called “lewd behaviour, gay marriage, and lifestyles which are not chaste.”
PAFE collected over 7,000 signatures on a petition demanding that OECTA reverse its decision.
“The good news is Catholic voters will be able to choose trustees in the upcoming Municipal Elections who will seriously pursue their legal and moral duties to preserve, defend and uphold the Catholic faith in the separate school system of Ontario,” she said.
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A recent editorial in the Catholic Register called the Pride parade “an X-rated rolling orgy of self-indulgence and hedonism.”
“Some of what goes on is probably unlawful and certainly un-Catholic,” the editors wrote.
The York Catholic District School Board asked OECTA to not march in the parade, saying that the union’s presence would confuse children about Catholic teaching on marriage and family. The London District Catholic School Board, in a similar move, sent a letter to OECTA saying that marching in the parade could not be reconciled with Catholic teaching.
Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins publicly criticized OECTA twice for deciding to join the parade, saying the first time that the decision showed an “inadequate and mistaken understanding of their faith,” and the second time that the decision was “inappropriate.”
Bishop Fred Colli of Thunder Bay wrote a terse letter to OECTA president James Ryan criticizing not only Ryan’s leadership, but the entire union, for ratifying participation in the parade.
“I am disappointed in your leadership and the OECTA union as a whole. You have shown poor judgment as the president and have caused the degrading of OECTA and unfortunately, Catholic teachers as a whole,” the bishop wrote.
“Our Catholic school system and its fine reputation, is harmed by your actions,” his letter to Ryan concluded.
Pierre says she looks forward to working with voters, the clergy, and teachers to have “good trustees returned to office and bad trustees removed and replaced.”
“This behaviour by OECTA's leadership and some teachers only motivates us and our supporters even more to get involved in these elections and make a difference,” she said.