WINNIPEG, Manitoba, October 25, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The principal of a Catholic K-8 school in Winnipeg is back at work Tuesday after being put on leave earlier this month over his promotion of the local 40 Days for Life campaign.
David Hood, the principal at Christ the King School, was put on leave on October 13th after telling the Winnipeg Free Press that he was considering allowing grade 7 and 8 students to attend the prayer vigil to satisfy a community service requirement.
Though he insisted participation would be voluntary, the comments reportedly enraged some of the parents at the school, and the archdiocese and the school’s board of directors immediately distanced themselves from the comments.
In a letter to parents sent Monday, the school said that while Hood’s promotion of the 40 Days campaign had “created a very difficult atmosphere for everyone,” they have agreed to “move forward” with him as principal.
“We ask for your cooperation as we all journey on this path of re-establishing trust and relationships within our school community,” they wrote.
The letter, signed by Archbishop Albert LeGatt, the school’s parish priest Fr. Renato Pasinato, and board chair Teresita Chiarella, comes after a meeting on Saturday.
Hood’s comments had sparked a media firestorm with calls for the school, which is independent and under the auspices of the archdiocese, but receives 50 percent funding, to lose its public funding for promoting “political” activism.
In response, the archdiocese’s Director of Education Robert Praznik insisted that the Catholic schools would not give community service credit for a “political activity.”
Praznik told LifeSiteNews that the archdiocese’s schools would not get involved with the 40 Days for Life because of its ties to Campaign Life Coalition, a national pro-life group that works to secure full legal protection for the unborn.
The letter to parents notes that as a result of the incident the archdiocese will begin consultations on “ways to promote the message of respect for all human life in the teachings and activities of the school in a manner appropriate to our children at the various age levels.”
Archbishop LeGatt himself has participated in the city’s 40 Days vigil, which takes place outside Women’s Hospital, and even was the speaker at the midpoint rally last fall.
Maria Slykerman, the campaign’s organizer, said the local campaign has grown significantly since the controversy broke two weeks ago, swelling from about 300 participants to 450 in that time. The campaign runs for 12 hours per day and has at least five people there praying every hour.
Bishops across the world have joined the 40 Days for Life vigils, including campaigns in Toronto, Ottawa, and Vancouver.