By Hilary White
TORONTO, August 22, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The most prominent dissident Catholic academic in the country, former priest Gregory Baum, will be the star attraction at a conference scheduled August 24-26 by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA). The conference features a line-up of speakers and workshops promoting feminism, “eco-theology,” courses in turning students into political agitators and economic ideas from the hard left of the political spectrum.
Although there is in fact a wide range of political opinions among Catholic teachers and the union’s own statement of principles includes promotion of “Catholic values”, the line-up of speakers and workshops emphasizes a notably one-sided socialist, anti-Catholic perspective. That of course alarms parents who realize this agenda is what their children are being indoctrinated in by many teachers in their “Catholic” schools.
Conference workshops and speakers include a full roster of favourite socialist issues from key concepts in the new globalist agenda, to eco-theology. One workshop will give teachers tips on how to inculcate students into activism in the labour movement and for “issues of race, class, gender, ability/disability and sexual orientation.”
The main feature at the conference will be Gregory Baum a figure beloved by most secular Canadian media and “progressives” at all levels in the Church for his vocal opposition to Catholic teaching on a range of issues. Baum, known as the grandfather of dissent in the Canadian Church, has made a long and prosperous career out of publicly opposing Catholic teaching especially on sexual morality and priestly celibacy. He himself abandoned the priesthood to marry (without seeking laicisation) a once-divorced former Loretto nun.
Baum has been a prominent activist in favour of homosexual marriage and was also a co-founder of the dissident magazine, Catholic New Times, that has been banned for its anti-Catholic and extreme socialistic positions by a few Canadian bishops.
In 2005, Toronto’s Catholic Register reported on a speech Baum gave to a “grey-haired audience” at the University of St. Michael’s College in Toronto where he had once been banned from teaching seminarians. Baum said, “My heart is on the left, I suppose. I belong very much to the left wing of the Christian church.”
Other conference speakers include Linda McQuaig, a feminist, pro-abortion journalist and activist whom CTV identified during the 2004 election as a “a left-wing commentator”. Veteran journalist McQuaig is the author of several books on socialist economics and has a regular political column in the strongly pro-abortion and anti-Catholic Toronto Star, Canada’s largest circulation newspaper.
Conference workshops include one that will “explore effective strategies to create safe, caring and inclusive environments within schools for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-spirited and Transgendered (LGBTT) students and share resources designed to facilitate social justice in schools.”
OECTA’s use of the terms “transgendered,” and “two-spirited”– both taken from the lexicon of the homosexual activist movement –Â indicates their support for homosexual activity and the homosexual political agenda has lost no momentum. OECTA came out in support of homosexual marriage in 2004. It aided graduating Catholic high school student Marc Hall in his legal battle to be allowed to take his homosexual “partner” to the prom in 2002.
OECTA is a large, financially wealthy teacher’s union. It’s 36,000 members teach approximately 656,000 students in 1,401 Catholic schools: 234 secondary and 1,167 elementary schools. Membership in OECTA is mandatory according to provincial law. Among its many activities, the union is the sole provider of the basic religious education program that many Catholic teachers take during their early teaching years. It has conducted this course, which many teachers refer to as a “heresy” course,Âfor over 20 years. OECTA also runs numerous other teacher formation courses and conferences, many of which further indoctrinate Catholic teachers in OECTA’s ideology.
A spokesman for the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops declined to comment on the OECTA conference’s content, and Bishop Richard Smith, president of the OCCB did not return LifeSiteNews.com’s calls by press time.
That OECTA and most other bodiesÂwithinÂCatholic Church institutions in Canada lean heavily to the secular left is a matter of concern for some, including Pope Benedict XVI. The Ontario bishops are expected to make their ad limina visit to Rome next month. During the visit of the Atlantic bishops, Pope Benedict spoke of the secularization in the Canadian Church and its relationship with Canada’s disastrously low birth rate.
Some expect that this extreme secularist trend in the Church’s institutions, especially in education, will be a prominent feature of the Pope’s discussions with the Ontario bishops as well.
Read OECTA conference brochure (Pdf):
To express concerns contact the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops at:
Read related LifeSiteNews.com Special Report:
Ontario Catholic Bishops to be Scolded by Pope? Some Hope so.
(Note: this article has been substantially updated from its original content)