Ontario bishops scramble to make McGuinty’s ‘anti-bullying’ law fit with Catholic faith
THUNDER BAY, Ontario, June 8, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Catholic bishops in Ontario are scrambling to figure out how Catholic schools can remain true to Catholic teaching on sexual morality while at the same time abiding by McGuinty’s new law that forces the schools to open their doors to Gay-Straight Alliance (GSAs) clubs, which have close ties to the homosexualist political agenda.
Immediately after Bill 13 passed on Tuesday, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario observed that they had expressed “serious concerns” regarding “certain aspects” of the Accepting Schools Act, but nonetheless stated that they will “seek to foster safe and welcoming school communities” in a way that “is in accord with our faith.”
A leaked memo from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (OCSTA) one day prior to the bill’s passage allegedly suggests that one way for Catholic schools to remain uncompromised in adherence to the Catholic faith would be for principals to “allow students to call a group a ‘GSA’ if such a request is made”, but that such a group would “be a subset of a larger group such as a ‘Respecting Difference’ or ‘Open Arms’ group”.
Respecting Differences, put out by the province’s bishops and Catholic trustees earlier this year, says that any anti-bullying clubs set up should be “respectful of and consistent with Catholic teaching” and that they should be led by a carefully selected staff advisor who “must know and be committed to Catholic teachings.” The document states that clubs are not be used for “activism, protest or advocacy of anything that is not in accord with the Catholic faith foundation of the school,” and all outside speakers must be “respectful” of Catholic teaching. The document also discourages public discussion of issues surrounding sexual attraction, encouraging private counseling instead for students who may be struggling with such issues.
“The Respecting Difference Resource created for Catholic schools provides guidelines for ensuring that student-led groups to combat bullying reflect Catholic values and adhere to Ministry guidelines,” the leaked memo states.
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In a move that corresponds to the proposed strategy outlined in the leaked memo, Bishop Fred Colli of the Diocese of Thunder Bay said that while Catholic schools will now accept Gay-Straight Alliances, the clubs will nonetheless adhere to Catholic teaching on sexual morality.
“Everything we do in our schools, every part of our curriculum, always has a Catholic component to it,” he said to the Kenora Daily Miner and News on Tuesday.
“If it’s an anti-bullying club of one kind or another, even dealing with sexual orientation or questioning of that, we’re going to use our Catholic teachings to show the support we can give to our students who are challenged by these kinds of questions.”
“However, I must say we’re going to be true to the teachings of our Church and help our children to understand some issues in life are going to be challenging for them, especially if it has to do with sexual orientation.”
Bishop Colli also stated that GSA clubs in Catholic schools would require “qualified adults” who would supply “good support” to the student clubs so as to ensure that they reflect Catholic values.
“We will remind the students about the teachings of the Catholic church and about what the Catholic faith expects of them and also about what our Catholic values are, because that’s the basis of our schools,” Colli said to CBC News.
Bishop Collie sought to assuage the concerns of Catholic parents and pro-family leaders who have said that Gay-Straight-Alliances will be used to promote the acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.
“We’re going to say the Catholic church is not going to endorse or support homosexual lifestyles because we don’t see it as a proper lifestyle or a morally good lifestyle for people,” he said to the Kenora Daily Miner and News.
“The job of the church is going to be to work with people, no matter where they are, to try to give them whatever support and encouragement we can to help them live their lives recognizing that God loves them but we want to assist them. They’re going to be challenged to live their life based on what their sexual orientation is.”
But Ontario Gay-Straight Alliances Coalition lawyer Doug Elliott told the Gay and Lesbian news service Xtra! that if Catholics “driven by the position of the Vatican” think they have found a loophole in the legislation, then they will be hauled before the courts.
“If the schools try to play games with kids…, the law is clear. We won’t put up with any of that crap come September,” said Elliott. “If you’re not complying with the law, then we’re going to take you to court. It’s that simple.”