Not Exactly Canonical but Important
Several months ago, the government of the Province of Ontario passed a law (known as Bill 13) about bullying in schools — at least that’s it in a nutshell. In Ontario, there are two publicly funded schools systems: one Catholic (or as we say sometimes, the Separate School System) the other, well, public (the Public School System, as we say). It has a long, complicated history that goes back to the founding of Canada, and the English/French, Catholic/Protestant issues. In any case, there exist in Ontario Catholic schools funded by tax-payers that go from JK to Gr. 12. Apart from the myriad of problems which plague us in trying to maintain our Catholic identity and fidelity in our modern Catholic world, the schools are Catholic. Masses are celebrated, prayers are said, crucifixes are on the walls and the curriculum is Catholic. Until now.
With the passage of Bill 13, Catholic schools must, by law, prevent discrimination of, and provide a safe environment for, people with same-sex attraction, even when they self-identify as gay, with all of those ramifications. The Bishops of Ontario have been working assiduously to navigate this minefield. Last Wednesday, the minefield suddenly became much more dangerous.
The Minister of Education for the Province of Ontario made comments to the press suggesting that Catholic schools should not be teaching that abortion is wrong because it is a violation of the government’s newly-enacted anti-bullying legislation. “We do not allow and we’re very clear with the passage of Bill 13 that Catholic teachings cannot be taught in our schools that violates human rights and which brings a lack of acceptance to participation in schools,” she said when asked if it’s okay for the schools to encourage pro-life rallies.
The Minister stated: “Bill 13 has in it a clear indication of ensuring that our schools are safe, accepting places for all our students,” “That includes of LGBTQ students. That includes young girls in our school. Bill 13 is about tackling misogyny, taking away a woman’s right to choose could arguably be one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take.”
Those are serious statements and these are serious times. As I am writing this, I received news that the Premier of Ontario resigned last night, not over this issue.
Those are not canonical considerations, stricte dictu, and I have never intended this blog to turn into mere commentary about Catholic issues; however, this issue does affect the inherent right of the Church, independent of any human authority, to preach the Gospel (c. 747.1) and to proclaim moral principles (c. 747.2) I jokingly mention to my bishop occasionally that he gets a pointy hat and big bucks to solve these problems. But this is no joking matter. We need to pray for the bishops of Ontario. This is the stuff of saints and martyrs.