TORONTO, Ontario, March 22, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Toronto Catholic school board, the largest in Canada, opened a workshop to develop their policy on equity and inclusive education earlier this year with a prayer calling the homosexual inclination a “manifestation of [God’s] goodness.” The revelation has Catholic parents calling foul and pleading for the bishops of Ontario to have another look at the equity policy.
The prayer, read at the January 24th meeting, asked Christ to “give us all the grace to own our sexual identity, whatever its orientation, as another manifestation of your goodness.”
“Give us the vision to recognize and reject the homophobia around us and in our own hearts, as well,” it added.
The revelation heightens concerns that some at the board are using the equity policy, which comes as part of the Ontario government’s mandatory and controversial equity and inclusive education strategy, to subvert Catholic teaching in the area of homosexuality.
Sr. Joan Cronin, head of the Ontario bishops’ Institute for Catholic Education (ICE), and the bishops’ lead on implementing the equity strategy, was present at the meeting. Asked about the prayer at her offices today, she said “no comment.”
Last month, the board voted down several amendments from trustee John Del Grande specifying that equity and inclusion must be implemented “in a manner consistent with the Catholic faith and Catholic moral teaching.” Trustees are expected to pass the policy sometime in April.
Entitled ‘Prayer in Honor of Those Whom Jesus Loved’, the prayer was authored by Sr. Joan Chittister, who is renowned for promoting positions contrary to Catholic teaching on such issues as abortion, homosexuality, and women’s “ordination.” The prayer was written as a response to a 1999 notification from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which denounced the writings of the founders of the illicit pro-homosexual New Ways Ministry.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church insists that those with homosexual inclinations be “accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity,” and condemns “unjust discrimination” towards them. At the same time, however, the Catechism also says homosexual inclinations are “objectively disordered,” calls those with such tendencies to chastity, and it condemns homosexual acts as “acts of grave depravity” (2357-2359).
In what some are describing as an “attack” on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the dissident prayer references the Church’s description of the inclination to homosexuality. The prayer reads, “Jesus who loved the hemorrhaging woman, long ignored and thought to be intrinsically disordered, give us hearts large enough to embrace those whom the world calls bent.”
“Help us to love those who make exiles of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters,” the prayer adds. “May we and the church of Jesus open our hearts and homes and sanctuaries to the gay and lesbian community, to the glory of God they bring in new voice, with different face.”
Andy Pocrnic, the head of Concerned Catholic Parents of Ottawa, expressed horror at the prayer’s use by a Catholic school board. “This is unacceptable. I can’t believe that the Ontario Bishops’ principal advisor on educational issues, Sr. Cronin, participated in this dissident prayer. It clearly attacks Catholic doctrine on homosexuality,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“For her to apparently not speak out against the use of this prayer at a board meeting is outrageous,” he added.
Pocrnic also suggested this actually has deeper ramifications. “In light of this scandal, I believe the Bishops have to reconsider their decision to accept Dalton McGuinty’s Equity doctrine, which was in part based on the counsel of Sr. Cronin and the I.C.E. organization she leads,” he said. “The Equity Strategy is bad idea with a hidden agenda. It should be rejected and it’s increasingly clear that the Bishops have taken advice from the wrong people.”
He also shared concerns about the individuals involved in selecting this prayer. “One would assume that this prayer of dissent against Catholic doctrine was selected by staff at the TCDSB,” he said. “In light of the prayer used at this meeting, it’s clear that some individuals within the administration have a hidden agenda.”
“For the sake of our children, the Bishops of Ontario must intervene before any more damage is done,” he added.
The Toronto Catholic School Board has also invited a leading ‘equity’ trainer, who advocates same-sex ‘marriage’ and surrogacy for homosexual families, to promote the draft policy at a parents consultation symposium. The trainer, Chris D’Souza, has made it a key point in his presentations to Catholics that “equity” involves accepting the homosexual lifestyle itself.
The government’s equity and inclusive education strategy has come under fire from pro-family groups because it required boards to recognize “sexual orientation” as a grounds for non-discrimination, which they say amounts to granting leverage for homosexual activists to run rough-shod over Catholic doctrine.
Recognizing “sexual orientation” in this way would also appear to violate a 1992 directive from the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which warned that such a recognition “can easily lead, if not automatically, to the legislative protection and promotion of homosexuality.”
Some have claimed that Catholic boards are obligated to implement the government’s equity strategy because the province made it mandatory. However, the Catechism states that citizens are “obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel” (2242).
LifeSiteNews didn’t hear back from the Toronto Catholic District School Board by press time.
Link to full prayer (see page 2)
The Toronto Catholic District School Board’s draft equity policy is available here.
The executive of the Assembly of Catholic bishops
All Ontario bishops (Click on Ontario Pastoral Region)
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