‘Reprehensible’: Toronto cardinal rebukes Catholic school trustees for censoring Catechism on homosexuality
TORONTO, November 19, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Cardinal Thomas Collins has strongly rebuked the Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees who stopped a delegate from reading Catechism’s section on homosexuality during a stormy meeting last week.
“That a Catholic should be criticized, and effectively be prevented by Catholic trustees from reading from the Catholic Catechism at a meeting of a Catholic school board is simply reprehensible,” Collins wrote in a private letter addressed to board chair Joe Martino (click here to read letter or read full below).
“If Jesus Himself were to attend a meeting of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, I wonder if He would be interrupted, if he were to begin to say: ‘Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near, or many other things He says in the Gospel, because those words are perhaps not sufficiently soothing, and perhaps might offend,” added the cardinal in the November 17 letter, a copy of which has been obtained by LifeSiteNews.
Collins also “highly” commended trustee Nancy Crawford “for pointing out the significance of this act,” and reminded the TCDSB trustees that they swore an oath of office to “be faithful to the teachings of the Church and to the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff and the authority of the Magisterium.”
The letter was the cardinal’s response to the November 11 special board meeting during which three trustees — chair Martino, Norm Di Pasquale, and Maria Rizzo — objected to a delegate reading the Catechism’s section on homosexuality.
The comments were “treading … in dangerous waters … putting down a marginalized and vulnerable community at our board,” said Di Pasquale.
“I must warn, uh, the delegate that, uh, some of the language, I feel, is not proper,” agreed Martino.
At that point, apparently amazed, Crawford stood up. “The delegate is quoting from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Let that sink in, please? Before you make your ruling. I would appreciate that.”
Rizzo then joined in: “Mr. Chair, anybody making a comment about anybody in our community — anybody in our community in a publicly funded body — is not, is not, is not acceptable in this forum.”
Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s national pro-life, pro-family political lobbying group, lauded the Cardinal for sending the letter.
“We are very pleased that Cardinal Collins has finally ended his silence on the public heresy of the TCDSB trustees. He used strong but appropriate language, calling Trustees’ assault on the Catechism of the Catholic Church ‘reprehensible’,” said Jeff Gunnarson, Campaign Life’s national president.
“His Eminence gave Trustees Di Pasquale, Martino and Rizzo a stinging rebuke, questioning even their ability to ‘fulfil their sacred mission’ and implying quite strongly that they have violated their oath of office, which demands fidelity to the teachings of the Church.”
Collins did not mention the reason for the special meeting during which the incident took place. It had been called at the urging of trustee Markus de Domenico to reopen code of conduct complaints against trustee Michael Del Grande.
Del Grande has been under attack for over a year by LGBTQ activists and their allies on the board for his defense of Catholic teaching and opposition to gender ideology, specifically, the now infamous reductio ad absurdum motion he tabled last November during the board’s debate on including “gender expression” and “gender identity” as protected categories in its code of conduct.
His motion asked that the board refer the matter to committee to study whether it should add other aberrant sexual behaviors, such as pedophilia and bestiality, as prohibited grounds for discrimination under the code.
The “slippery slope” motion, intended to illustrate the consequence of amending the code, provoked a number of complaints against Del Grande, which the board cleared him of in August.
Despite this, dissident Toronto Catholic elementary school teacher Paolo de Buono and former Catholic student trustee and open homosexual Kyle Iannuzzi were among the LGBTQ activists who continued to lobby the board to censure him.
More recently, Ontario premier and lesbian MPP Kathleen Wynne and Tory Education Minister Stephen Lecce also pressured the board to hold Del Grande “accountable” for his allegedly “homophobic” remarks.
All this culminated in the turbulent seven-hour-long November 11 meeting, which concluded with eight trustees voting to find Del Grande guilty of violating the code and being “disrespectful to the LGBTQ community as a whole.”
They then imposed sanctions, which included that Del Grande be asked to publicly apologize, take an equity course, and be barred from leadership roles for three months.
Del Grande has retained a lawyer and is appealing, and Campaign Life Coalition is raising funds for his defense on WonderWe, Stand With Michael Del Grande.
Moreover, after witnessing Catholic trustees censoring the Catechism during the meeting, Campaign Life urged Catholics in the Toronto archdiocese to stop donating to their parish and donate to Del Grande’s fund instead.
It still stands by that recommendation, despite the Cardinal’s welcome letter, Gunnarson told LifeSiteNews.
Campaign Life “wishes to give credit where credit is due towards the Cardinal; his letter was very good, and we’re pleased to see his moral leadership in action,” said Gunnarson.
“However, it was not sufficient,” he added.
“To put it simply – His Eminence has a moral and canon law responsibility to insist upon the resignation” of the “eight dissident trustees on the board who have brought Catholic education into disrepute, undermined and attacked the teachings of Our Lord and the Catechism,” he said.
Until Collins does so, “we repeat our request for Catholics in Toronto to continue withholding Sunday collection plate offerings.”
“We believe the Cardinal has the moral and legal authority to right this sinking ship that is the TCDSB, and if he has a love for souls, that’s what His Eminence will do.”
Gunnarson urged Catholics to “write to the Cardinal Archbishop to express thanks and congratulations for rebuking the trustees,” and to “also respectfully encourage him to go all the way, by publicly requesting their resignations.”
LifeSiteNews contacted the eight trustees who voted to censure Del Grande to ask for their response to the Cardinal’s letter.
While there was no official response from chair Martino, Di Pasquale told LifeSiteNews he intends to make an apology at tonight’s general board meeting.
It is notable that Di Pasquale, who was the first to object to the reading of the Catechism, also retweeted this congratulatory message during the meeting:
THANK YOU @normsworld for shutting that down. Quoting the catechism as a means of demonizing the LGBTQ+ community has no place in this meeting or in PUBLICLY. FUNDED. EDUCATION.— Julianna Ozorio (@theozoriothe) November 12, 2020
Joe Volpe, president and publisher of Corriere Canadese, Canada’s only daily Italian-language print newspaper, dismissed Di Pasquale’s promised future apology.
“If he thinks he’s going to stand up and apologize, I’m going to die laughing,” said Volpe, who has written extensively on the TCDSB.
“We’re beyond a stupid, self-serving apology by somebody who is less than contrite and over the top in his abuse of Catholics.”
To contribute to the Michael Del Grande Legal Defense Fund, go here.
To respectfully express your views, contact:
Full text of Cardinal Collins’s letter here:
November 17, 2020
Dear Mr. Martino,
At a recent meeting of the Toronto Catholic District School Board a member of a delegation attempted to quote from the section of the Catechism of the Catholic Church which concerns the teaching and the pastoral practice of the Church in caring for our brothers and sisters who experience same sex attractions. Shortly after he had begun reading the quotation, he was interrupted, and it was suggested that to continue reading from the Catechism was to be treading in dangerous waters, and would be putting down a marginalized and vulnerable community, and that the language of the Catechism is not proper.
That a Catholic should be criticized, and effectively be prevented by Catholic Trustees from reading from the Catholic Catechism at a meeting of a Catholic School Board is simply reprehensible. I highly commend Trustee Crawford for pointing out the significance of this act.
Catholic faith must guide all who are engaged in Catholic Education - including students, teachers, administrators, and trustees - or that education ceases to be Catholic.
In addition, if those engaged in Catholic Education do not appreciate the rich and life-giving faith of the Church, which is the defining characteristic of Catholic Education, and instead have bought into the fundamentally anti-Catholic narrative that misrepresents Catholic faith as lacking in compassion, then I question how they can fulfil their sacred mission, and truly serve those who are entrusted to their care. In fact, commitment to the truths of our faith is pledged in the Oath taken by the trustees of the Toronto Catholic District School Board:
LEADER: Will you be faithful to the teachings of the Church and to the Primacy of the Roman Pontiff and the authority of the Magisterium?
TRUSTEES: I will.
The world in which we live is dominated by a shallow secular vision of the human person, and of the purpose of life, a vision which is contrary to divine revelation, to reason, and to the profound heritage of Christian faith. It is disappointing when Catholic trustees allow that secular vision to replace the fullness of faith articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We are called to be guided by the Holy Spirit, not by the deceptive spirit of the age.
As I listened to the dialogue at the meeting, in response to the reading of the passage from the Catechism, it became clear to me that the consideration that was given priority was not fidelity to the Gospel challenge calling us to holiness, or fidelity to the faith which Our Lord has entrusted to us for our eternal salvation, but rather a nervous attentiveness to how people might possibly react to the proclamation of that faith, and be offended. If Jesus Himself were to attend a meeting of the Toronto Catholic District School Board, I wonder if He would be interrupted, if he were to begin to say: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is near,” or many other things He says in the Gospel, because those words are perhaps not sufficiently soothing, and perhaps might offend. After all, many people were offended by the life-giving words of Our Lord Jesus, when He walked among us; the words of life do not merely soothe - with clarity and charity, they challenge us to repentance and to holiness.
I urge you and your fellow trustees to reflect upon these spiritual observations, and I pray that God may bless and guide you in the sacred mission which has been entrusted to you.
Thomas Collins Archbishop of Toronto.
cc: Trustees of TCDSB