Ontario Gvmt Won’t Say Whether Catholic Schools Can Teach Beliefs on Homosexuality
By Patrick B. Craine
See companion article from yesterday: Ontario Gov’t Initiative Would Force Catholic Schools to Violate Church Teaching
TORONTO, Ontario, January 8, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Ontario Ministry of Education has refused to say whether Catholic schools will be permitted to teach Catholic beliefs on homosexuality under their new Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy.
The new strategy requires the province’s boards, including the Catholic ones, to recognize special protections for homosexuals. The Vatican, however, has condemned such a recognition, warning that it “can easily lead, if not automatically, to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality.”
A Ministry spokesperson told LifeSiteNews (LSN) that “Church teaching may be taught” in Catholic schools, but she would not directly answer repeated questions about whether the Ministry considers the Church’s teaching on homosexuality to be homophobic, and whether Catholic schools would be permitted to teach the Catholic position on homosexuality.
According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, homosexual inclinations are “objectively disordered.” The Church calls people with such tendencies to chastity. Homosexual acts, the Catechism states further, are “acts of grave depravity,” and “under no circumstances can they be approved” (2357-2359).
When asked initially whether this teaching would be allowed in Catholic schools under the Ministry’s new equity strategy, Ministry communications contact Patricia MacNeil said she needed to look into it.
She then responded by e-mail, stating that the new strategy “is consistent with the Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations which respects and affirms the diversity and interdependence of the world’s peoples and cultures and also respect and understand the history, cultural heritage and pluralism of today’s contemporary society.” These lines were taken directly from the Graduate Expectations.
Asked for a more direct response, MacNeil said she had already answered the question. Asked again, MacNeil phoned LSN, stating: “I’ve answered all of your questions. I’ve answered them accurately, and very clearly about Ontario’s regulations and expectations, and any word different – any categorization differently is an inaccuracy I will be watching for.”
When LSN asked whether we are to presume that she does not, then, have a direct response, she stated: “No, no. You are to presume that you cannot ask me to use your words. I have provided you with the response officially, as required in Ontario. … You have asked a question that I have answered, and now, unless you have a new question, … I have to go and do a radio interview.”
The Ministry’s intentions for the new strategy, perhaps, can be gleaned from the programs they suggest as models for school boards. In their equity strategy documents, they specifically promote Gay/Straight Alliances, for example, and mention the Toronto District School Board’s Pride Parade. They also highlight the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board’s “Rainbow Coalition,” which, they say, “provides lesbian, gay, bisexual, two-spirited, trans-identified, and straight students with a safe place to socialize, support each other, and discuss concerns.”
Some educators in the Catholic school system have expressed concern over the strategy, not only about its expectations regarding homosexuality, but also because it requires special attention to religious accommodation. There have been fears, for example, that Catholic schools will have to provide prayer space for people of other faiths and that they will have to allow homosexual student groups such as Gay/Straight Alliances.
When asked about potential conflicts with Church teaching, MacNeil emphasized that the strategy was developed in conjunction with the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE), an arm of the Ontario Bishops’ Assembly that monitors the Catholic curriculum.
Sr. Joan Cronin, ICE’s executive director, confirmed that she had been included in the process. “I think that Catholic education has always been about equity and inclusivity,” she said.
The strategy “won’t interfere with our denominational rights,” she continued. According to Sr. Cronin, separate prayer spaces for non-Catholics, for example, “wouldn’t be required,” and Catholic schools would not have to accommodate for spiritual practices that are not in line with the faith.
When asked if Catholic schools would be permitted under the new strategy to teach the Catholic belief on homosexuality, as quoted above, she said that, “Catholics will teach the Church teaching.”
James Ryan, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teacher’s Association (OECTA), told LSN that he thinks the strategy is “a good move by the province.” Asked if OECTA supports the teaching of the Catholic belief on homosexuality, Ryan said, “We haven’t taken a stand on that. But I mean, we support religion being taught in our classroom obviously and the classrooms of the province.”
While he said OECTA does not have a policy, for example, on same-sex “marriage,” the organization did allow a proposal at their annual general meeting in 2004 to support the redefinition of marriage. In 2002, further, they backed student Marc Hall in his effort to bring his homosexual “partner” to his Catholic prom. As well, OECTA has a policy recognizing “sexual orientation” as a prohibited ground for discrimination, which would seem to be in violation of the Vatican’s position.
According to Suresh Dominic, a spokesman for Campaign Life Catholic, the Ministry “is claiming to fight homophobia but they are really trying to make people accept homosexuality.”
“I would urge the Bishops of Ontario to look very carefully at the Ministry proposals because they fly in the face of Catholic teaching,” he said. “Teachers at Catholic schools will be prevented from teaching their students the full teaching of the Church regarding homosexuality.”
“The Catholic Church will never accept the idea that homosexuality, the homosexual agenda, are legitimate,” insisted Fr. Alphonse de Valk, editor of Canada’s Catholic Insight magazine. Homosexual rights are “not true rights, they’re phony rights, and therefore the Church will never give in to it.”
Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty
On-line message form
Dalton McGuinty, Premier
Toronto ON M7A 1A1
Hon. Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Education
900 Bay St
Toronto ON M7A1L2
Email: [email protected]
Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario
10 St. Mary St., Suite 800
Toronto, Ontario M4Y 1P9
Phone: (416) 923-1423
Fax: (416) 923-1509
Institute for Catholic Education
10 St. Mary Street, Suite 604
Phone: (416) 962-0031
Fax: (416) 962-1672
E-mail: [email protected]
See related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Ontario Gov’t Initiative Would Force Catholic Schools to Violate Church Teaching
Lesbian Ontario Education Minister Hires “Homophobia” Watchdog for Schools
Interview: The Vatican on Just vs. Unjust Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation
Homosexuals Now Hold Both Key Ontario Government Ministries: Education and Health