OTTAWA, Ontario, April 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A group of Ontario Catholic parents is calling on the province’s bishops to re-evaluate their support for the government’s controversial equity and inclusive education strategy, highlighting what they say are recent scandalous revelations about the bishops’ curriculum advisers.
Andy Pocrnic, head of Concerned Catholic Parents of Ottawa (CCPO), wrote to the bishops in an April 3rd letter, saying that the grave problems with Premier Dalton McGuinty’s equity strategy will “spill out” in time, “but not before thousands of our Catholic teens have lost their faith as a result of the mixed messages and contradictory, pro-gay indoctrination they will receive under the guise of ‘equity’.”
Pro-family groups have warned for over a year that the government was using the notion of ‘equity’ as a smokescreen to promote homosexuality in the Catholic schools. The concern appeared to be confirmed last week when a government spokesman told LifeSiteNews that the Catholic schools are not permitted to use mandatory support groups for homosexuals to help the struggling students to “reform their sexuality.”
CCPO said recent revelations about leading voices at the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE), the Ontario bishops’ curriculum arm, make the group’s advice on the strategy questionable. ICE helped develop the equity strategy and is advising the bishops and the Catholic schools on its implementation.
CCPO pointed out that ICE’s executive director, Sr. Joan Cronin, co-presented a workshop for Catholics in January in which a children’s book with positive portrayals of homosexual family structures was used. A conference attendee informed LifeSiteNews that Sr. Cronin remained silent as the book was presented and made no indication that it would be inappropriate in Catholic schools.
Further, they note that ICE’s board includes two representatives from the controversial Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA), which has become infamous for its efforts to subvert Catholic sexual teaching.
In December, LifeSiteNews revealed that OECTA partnered with and funded the homosexual lobby group Egale to promote gay-straight alliances. They hosted Egale’s executive director, Helen Kennedy, at their 2010 annual general meeting, where she promoted homosexual student clubs. Also in December, OECTA President James Ryan told the Catholic Register that he supported using “picture and fairy tale books featuring same sex families to teach students in Kindergarten and primary grades about equity and inclusivity.”
Last week, a firestorm erupted after it came to light that OECTA was forcing teachers to pay $60 each towards a partisan campaign to re-elect McGuinty’s Liberal government – the same government now threatening the schools’ religious freedom through the equity strategy.
CCPO asked the bishops to remove “Sr. Cronin and OECTA members from the ICE table.”
“Based on these disturbing facts involving your advisors, we prayerfully ask you, our shepherds, to reconsider the recommendation given by these parties regarding the government’s Equity Strategy and the Catholic template version,” the letter states.
That Catholic template equity policy, developed in consultation with ICE, has been criticized by pro-family groups for lacking clear language ensuring authentic Catholic teaching.
The template commits the Catholic boards to establishing policy that “recognizes and eliminates biases” related to “sexual orientation,” among other categories such as race and religion. It states that curriculum should “affirm the life experiences of all students, regardless of … sexual orientation,” as well as the other categories.
Nevertheless, it has largely been implemented by Catholic boards across the province, and was backed by the Ontario bishops in October. The template “will help ensure that our schools will remain faithful to Catholic teaching as they move forward with the Ministry’s directive,” the bishops wrote in a statement.
But, said Pocrnic, “we believe the Catholic version policy is dangerously open-ended and represents a bona fide threat to the faith of children in our schools.”
Pocrnic asked the bishops to “[reject] the government’s Equity strategy altogether, or [revise] the ‘Catholic template version’ endorsed by ICE and write a policy that includes specific language to protect Catholic identity.”
He recommended in particular that they require the schools to teach the Catechism’s section on homosexuality (p. 2357), and include other language “that would protect against the government agenda to subvert Church teaching on sexual morality.”
“For decades, Catholic schools have given away ground to secularizing, atheistic political forces,” wrote Pocrnic. “The consequence to the faith of our children has been devastating, emptying the pews of young people.”
Pocrnic’s concerns were echoed this week by grade 12 Sarnia student and budding activist Daniel Costain, who recently gathered 15 students to write the St. Clair Catholic District School Board after it announced in January that it was involving the “gay and lesbian community” in advancing equity through the schools.
“I feel like [the Catholic schools are] being pressured by all the gay lobbyist groups that are just chomping at the bit to get into our system,” Costain told LifeSiteNews. “I’ve never heard a teacher quote the Catechism. I’ve never heard a teacher say anything negative about homosexuality.”
Find contact information for Ontario’s bishops here.
Find the Concerned Catholic Parents of Ottawa letter here.