TORONTO, June 4, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Waterloo Catholic District School Board passed a motion of support last week for the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association’s decision to participate in Toronto’s World Pride Parade on June 29. OECTA’s participation in the parade has been condemned by Ontario’s bishops, including Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins.
The Waterloo board’s decision came a week after the Halton Catholic District School Board refused to pass a motion asking OECTA to withdraw.
The motion by Halton trustee Anthony Danko died without a seconder at the board’s May 20 meeting.
Danko’s motion had also requested the board seek options for “remedial and punitive actions” that could be taken against the union if it “continues to offer scandal to the Catholic community by appearing in the World Pride Parade.”
In an interview with LifeSiteNews, Danko said that he had no idea why the Catholic trustees “wouldn't want to support the Cardinal and defend the Faith. When the time came for an opportunity to review potential options, their response was silence, there was no stomach for a debate. They would not even entertain the idea of discussing what to do.”
When asked what the future holds for this issue, he said that “people need to get involved and tell us how they feel.”
The Halton Catholic District School Board is hosting public town hall meetings in three high schools on June 10 at 7:00 p.m. where parents would have an opportunity to raise the issue. The high schools are Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School in Burlington, Christ the King Catholic Secondary School in Halton Hills, and Bishop Reding Catholic Secondary School in Milton.
To attend one of the meetings, please register online here.
At the Waterloo board meeting, trustee Greg Reitzel was the only board member to oppose OECTA’s decision. Reitzel told the pro-family group Parents as First Educators (PAFE) that he was disappointed “that the very people entrusted with protecting Catholic education in our region do not know our faith well enough to defend it.”
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The Waterloo motion said the board would “respect OECTA’s right to make its own decision on support for the LGBT community.” Waterloo trustee Frank Johnson put forward the motion and it was seconded by trustee Anthony Piscitelli.
PAFE’s president, Teresa Pierre, said in a press release that her organization is “shocked that Waterloo Catholic Trustees chose to ignore the concerns of their voters in Waterloo who asked them to oppose the union's decision to march in the Parade. The Waterloo board appeared to forget their first duty is to their constituents and not the union.”
Pierre pointed out that not only have Ontario’s bishops explicitly denounced OECTA’s intention to participate, but a petition put up by PAFE protesting it has so far gained more than 4,600 signatures.
She also congratulated Danko for “coming forward to protect the teaching of the Catholic faith.” She added, however, that it is “shocking that only one Trustee chose to support the Cardinal of Toronto, who said that OECTA's decision was wrong.”
In his interview with LifeSiteNews, Danko underscored the pivotal role that the Catholic trustees play in upholding the Church’s constitutional right to publicly-funded schools.
“The elected trustees are the sole legal guarantors of Section 93 of the constitution, not the provincial government, not the Catholic Bishops, not the trustees association,” he said. “It's only the elected trustees who represent the Catholic ratepayers of this province who can guarantee Section 93 of this great country's founding document.”
PAFE believes that in the case of the Waterloo and the Halton votes, the failure to provide leadership will be remembered by Catholic voters in the fall municipal elections.
“All the other trustees who sat on their hands while Trustee Danko did his duty showed they are unfit to represent Catholic voters. Their silence and lack of courage is appalling to parents, grandparents and the other Catholic voters of Halton,” said Pierre.
When asked by LifeSiteNews why the trustees failed to support Danko’s motion, Diane Rabenda, the Chair of the Halton Catholic District School Board, who was herself unable to attend the meeting, said that “the decision of the provincial association to have an official presence at the World Pride Parade was an internal decision of the union. As such, the matter is not within the Board's scope of authority. ”
Nevertheless Rabenda insisted that the Board members “would never question the authority or wisdom of His Eminence as he undertakes his role as a spiritual leader in the Church.”
In May, the York Catholic District School Board passed a motion to send a letter to OECTA asking them to withdraw from the WorldPride parade.