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Thomas Cardinal Collins at Notre Dame Basilica, Ottawa, prior to the 2016 National March for Life.Pete Baklinski / LifeSiteNews

TORONTO, November 12, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Canada’s largest pro-life, pro-family lobbying group says the Toronto archdiocese led by Thomas Cardinal Collins betrayed Catholics by approving a policy to add “gender identity” and “gender expression” to the Catholic school board’s code of conduct and is asking the Cardinal to reverse course. 

Campaign Life Coalition (CLC), along with other critics, says the move will compel Catholic students and teachers to submit to LGBT ideology that claims, contrary to Catholic teaching, that males can “transition” into females and females into males. They also argue that Catholic schools have a constitutionally protected denominational right not to add the terms, and that doing so will have disastrous consequences for students.

“Your Eminence, once again with heartfelt regret, we have to state very clearly that this was a betrayal by you of parents and of children,” said Jack Fonseca, Campaign Life director of political operations, in a video appeal to the Cardinal in which the group asks Collins to reverse course.

“We know that gender ideology represents an attack on the image of God in creation. Scripture tells us very clearly that God created man in His image. Male and female, he created them. And, therefore, the addition of gender ideology to the code of conduct represents a type of heresy being accepted by the Catholic school system,” said Fonseca.

Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) trustees voted eight to four to amend the code of conduct after a marathon 7-hour meeting that went into the early hours of November 8, and after months of heated and bitter debate.

Proponents of adding the terms “gender identity, gender expression, family and marital status” to the code, which governs students and teachers, argued that the board has to conform with the education ministry’s October 2018 memo, PPM 128.

The memo ordered schools to align their codes by November 4 with the province’s and the Ontario Human Rights Code, both of which include the four terms.

Moreover, a report added to the agenda shortly before the November 7 meeting said the archdiocese had agreed to the policy amendment to add the terms after consultations with TCDSB staff. 

“The Archdiocese will accept all prohibited grounds of discrimination as enumerated in the Ontario Human Rights Code, consistent with PPM 128,” it read.

That’s with the proviso that “the policy contains language recommended by the Archdiocese which contextualizes that this policy will be interpreted through the lens of the Catholic faith as articulated by the teachings of the Church and protected in legislation,” the report said.

The archdiocese released its own statement Monday, which makes four points: 

  • We must do all that we can to foster a safe environment for all students, but, more than that, the faith that is the foundation of Catholic Education requires that every individual be treated with respect, dignity, compassion and love as a child of God. Everyone, and especially anyone who is suffering, is included in the love of Christ that we are called to make present in the world.
  • The Archdiocese of Toronto was invited by the Toronto Catholic District School Board to provide guidance and resources on church teachings.
  • Ministry of Education policy, PPM 128, directs that the prohibited grounds of discrimination found in the Ontario Human Rights Code be included in updated Codes of Conduct for all school boards in Ontario. While the archdiocese recognizes that terms such as gender identity are included in the Code, we do not accept the view of the human person which underlies this terminology, since that view is not compatible with our faith.
  • We note that the revised TCDSB Code of Conduct includes additional provisions to ensure that it is interpreted according to Catholic faith, “as articulated by the teaching of the Church…expressed through various documents of the Universal Church, the Bishops of Canada, the Bishops of Ontario and the Archdiocese of Toronto.” In doing so, it is exercising a right that is referenced in the Ontario Human Rights Code itself.

Campaign Life Coalition says the archdiocese has failed Catholics, and has called supporters to a prayer rally outside the archdiocese office on noon, November 12, to pray that Cardinal Collins “may reverse course and recognize the intrinsic danger of the language of ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’.”

It has also launched a petition asking Collins to reverse the board’s vote.

“By adopting Gender Ideology, Catholic schools will now be complicit in the confusion, corruption, and abuse of children” who will “be swayed by transgender ideas and adopt a harmful and conflicted self-image,” the petition states.

“If the archdiocese does not accept the view of the human person which underlies the terminology, then it should not have accepted the terminology,” said Josie Luetke, Campaign Life youth coordinator, in response to the archdiocesan Monday statement.

“You can't have your cake and eat it too,” she told LifeSiteNews.

“Gender identity” and “gender expression” are “inherently misleading terms which cannot be redeemed,” Luetke said.

“If we accept terms which convey a falsehood, we become culpable in the propagation of this falsehood,” she said. “In other words, if you don't want to convey a false concept of the human person, don't adopt the language literally invented to convey a false concept of the human person.”

“We’ve all heard this ‘Catholic lens’ argument before. It’s farcical. The same reasoning was applied to accept the gay ‘Equity & Inclusive Education Strategy’, which gave us gay pride clubs in Catholic schools, and then to accept Ontario’s radical sex-ed curriculum,” said Campaign Life Coalition national president Jeff Gunnarson in an email to supporters.

“Since then, we have heard the horror stories and the cries from parents and families. There is NO lens!” he added.

“Gender ideology is not compatible in any way with Catholic teaching. It is at odds with the Christian faith; it is at odds with God’s design for mankind. It endangers children, and is an assault on the family,” Gunnarson said.

“The terms ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ are inherently misleading and cannot be redeemed,” he added. “We cannot let this go unopposed.”

Fonseca also pointed to the Archdiocese of Toronto document Speaking the Truth in Love that appears to have been issued around March 2019, and was signed by the Office of the Liaison for Catholic Education, Archdiocese of Toronto.

Fonseca says that while the document contains some good things, it still “represents a massive betrayal of Christian teaching on human sexuality.”

The document “appears to give Catholic schools license to call children by opposite sex names, use their preferred pronouns, and even allows them to dress up as the opposite sex, and for the school community to affirm the child’s delusion,” he told LifeSiteNews.

Meanwhile, the dissident pro-LGBTQ group New Ways Ministry lauded Collins and the trustees for making what it called the “right choice,” citing the archdiocese’s approval as the needed final push to pass the policy amendment.

“It appears the archdiocese’s endorsement of explicitly naming gender identity, gender expression, marital status, and family status in keeping with Ontario law and the Education Ministry’s regulations prompted board members to shift course swiftly,” noted New Ways Ministry.  

“In doing so, Catholic officials from the archbishop down to the trustees very much made the right choice for the world’s largest publicly-funded Catholic school system.”