Ontario bishops to schools: use anti-bullying programs faithful to Catholic teaching
OAKVILLE, ON, January 17, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - On the eve of a critical vote by the Halton District Catholic School Board on whether or not to retain their policy on dealing with homosexuality, the Catholic Bishops of Ontario have commented on Gay/Straight Alliance clubs, a small portion of the debate.
Led by a 22-year-old homosexual activist who apparently did not reveal he was a homosexual activist before he was elected to the Catholic school board, the board voted 6-2 on a preliminary vote last week to scrap the policy which was more faithful to Catholic teaching on the matter than any other in the province. The official vote of the board is scheduled for the evening of Tuesday January 18.
The Halton equity policy includes explicit wording to prevent instruction in schools that undermines Catholic teaching in the area of homosexuality, which has been the central concern by Catholics about the government’s equity strategy.
The Halton policy includes a ban on Gay/Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs. These clubs are promoted by Canada’s leading homosexual activist group EGALE (Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere).
Homosexual activist Halton trustee Paul Marai has made the removal of the ban on GSAs a focal point of his campaign to overturn the current Halton policy.
In a statement by the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario dated January 14, but released today on the ACBO website, the Bishops sidestep the matter of the existing Halton policy and focus on the GSAs saying that anti-bullying programs are supported by the bishops for all those experiencing bullying but those programs should be consistent with the Catholic faith.
The statement said:
“The debate surrounding Gay/Straight Alliances (GSAs) in Catholic high schools is being complicated by the fact that people are not distinguishing between an objective and a strategy. GSAs are a strategy that some people propose to achieve an objective with which the Bishops of Ontario are in agreement: that all students in schools feel safe and respected. Our objective is that each student be treated with dignity, for each is a child of God. It is not right or fair to suggest that one particular strategy is the only way to achieve a given goal. We seek to achieve the goal of a safe and loving environment for all students in a way that is in harmony with our faith.”
The equity protocols in Catholic schools come as a response to an Ontario Liberal government mandate that required all school boards, including Catholic school boards, to adopt an equity policy by this fall. The mandate has faced strong opposition because it demands that the boards recognize “sexual orientation” as a prohibited ground for discrimination. Critics point out, however, that the Ministry’s documents recommend more than simply prohibiting unjust discrimination; instead they suggest that schools celebrate the Gay Pride Parades, use texts by homosexual authors, and promote homosexual clubs such as gay-straight alliances.
The Halton policy reflects Catholic doctrine on homosexuality more accurately than the template equity policy approved by the Ontario Bishops which has been employed in most other Catholic boards across the province. The policy approved by the Ontario Bishops has been criticized for recognizing “sexual orientation” as a prohibited ground for discrimination, in direct opposition to a Vatican directive.
The Halton policy makes no mention of “sexual orientation” and notably inserts the official church teaching “unjust discrimination” phrase, whereas the template policy merely condemned “discrimination.”
Concerns over the threatened cutting of public funding for Catholic schools have played a large role in the intimidation of Catholic trustees and Church leaders over this issue.
To respectfully voice concerns:
Alice Anne LeMay (905) 632-6300 [email protected]
Jane Michael (905) 319-6582 [email protected]
Arlene Lantomasi (905) 529-6155 [email protected]
John Morrison (905) 639-4718 [email protected]
Mark Rowe (905) 877-9510 [email protected]
Ed Viana (905) 632-6300 [email protected]
Diane Rabenda (905) 632-6300 [email protected]
Anthony Danko (905) 825-9159 [email protected]
Most Rev. Gerard P. Bergie, Bishop of St. Catharines
Chair, Ontario Bishops Education Commission
P.O. Box 875
St. Catharines, ON L2R 6Z4
Tel: (905) 684-0154
Fax: (905) 684-2185
Most Rev. Douglas Crosby, O.M.I., Bishop of Hamilton
700 King Street West
Hamilton, ON L8P 1C7
Tel: (905) 528-7988
Fax: (905) 528-1088
E-mail: [email protected]
Most Rev. Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
President, Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M4T 1W2
Tel: (416) 934-3400 #609
Fax: (416) 934-3452
E-mail: [email protected]onto.org