Roman Catholics in Ontario show some courage

Canadians are usually viewed as friendly and  tolerant but a recent blog post by Lou Iacobelli makes it clear that hatred and ignorance is alive and well in Canada.  This becomes obvious by examining only the first few paragraphs of the article. Mr. Iacobelli starts by saying:

 There has been a strong effort by the provincial government since 2009 to make sure every school board approves and begins to implement the Equity and Inclusive Education (EIE) policy by September 2011. According to the government, we need this policy because, “Racism, religious intolerance, homophobia, and gender-based violence are still evident in our communities and – unfortunately – in our schools.”  But in a Toronto Catholic District School Board Support Document for the EIE, there is a clear statement that there has been no increase in bullying based on sexual orientation or religious discrimination. So, somebody is not telling the truth here.

There is nothing dishonest about implementing the EIE. Even if there has been no evidence of an increase in bullying based on sexual orientation or religious discrimination that doesn’t necessarily mean that kind of bullying doesn’t exist. Additionally, the Equity and Inclusive Education (EIE) policy and others like it help to ensure that this kind of discrimination and bullying doesn’t become a problem. Would you rather wait until someone gets hurt?

The thinly veiled objective of the equity strategy is to normalize homosexuality among children. This is what parents are really worried about. The real agenda is disguised with a number of other issues such as Islamophobia, anti-black racism, anti-Semitism and religious intolerance.

‘Thinly veiled objective’ and ‘agenda’ sounds eerily close to the talk of the paranoid conspiracy theorists who also believe in alien abductions and  pharmaceutical plots to keep us all sick with vaccinations. All there is to the EIE is an effort to minimize hatred based on sexual orientation and religion. There is no effort to ‘normalize’ homosexuality amongst children, homosexuality is already normal to suggest otherwise makes it clear why the EIE is being implemented.

The only board that has not yet completely approved the policy is the Toronto Catholic District School Board (which is scheduled to consider amendments on August 31). Why? Because many parents have mobilized and shown leadership in defense of the faith. They have strongly expressed their concerns and opposition.  They fear that the policy directly contradicts the catechism of the Catholic Church with its views of the human person, sexuality and family life.

Actually the views of the Roman Catholic Church are on gay men and women are that:

“They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition. (Holy See 2008)”

In 2009 the Holy See reiterated this saying that it “urges States to do away with criminal penalties against [homosexual persons],” calling it “grave violations of human rights.” It opposes all forms of violence against homosexual people and believes it should be confronted at all levels.

I thought your blog was supposed to be informed.

We need to ask this question: What has happened to Catholic leadership in Ontario? A Ministry of Education document comes out that openly undermines the Catholic moral teaching and all we have been getting is silence and compliance on the part of senior administrators and directors from every Catholic board in the province. Have they sold out their faith? Have they lost their faith and their moral courage or do they really believe the equity strategy can be accommodated? I have attended a number of the meetings at the TCDSB during the process in dealing with the policy. This I can say: both the director and the superintendents, if anything, have argued in favor of the policy.

Have they sold out their faith? No. Have they lost their faith and their moral courage? No. Do they really believe the equity strategy can be accommodated? Obviously they do or they wouldn’t consider it.  What has happened to Catholic leadership in Ontario? Nothing unusual, they are simply enforcing the policies of the Roman Catholic Church and abiding by provincial law.

As evidence as to why parents should be concerned, consider this example. At a meeting this past Spring, a student trustee report was presented to the TCDSB. From among many anti-homophobia recommendations we find this one, “TCDSB students believe that a Catholic education promotes inclusivity” and “is deeply rooted in social justice, teaches important Catholic values, and allows for the connectedness of students.” Notice here the false reasoning by association: Catholic values equal a Catholic education and this is the same as inclusive education. Not so. This is how the words “Gospel values and teaching” have been hijacked by secular forces.

There is no ‘hijacking’ by secular forces. You simply need to read the official position of the Roman Catholic to see there is nothing out of the ordinary happening here. Mr Iacobelli’s entire diatribe is based on the assumption he understands the official position of the Roman Catholic Church on homosexuality, which he clearly doesn’t. Has his mind been closed by hatred? Only Mr. Iacobelli knows for sure but what we do know is that his hatred is unwelcome in a  tolerant society. We also know for sure that Mr. Iacobelli has gotten so arrogant that he assumes to understand Roman Catholic policy better  than Bishops and Provincial law better than Government lawmakers.

I commend the Roman Catholic school boards for their courage to protect its students against hatred and intolerance and its efforts to honor and protect the rights of all human beings, especially children. Shame on you Mr. Iacobelli for not feeling the same way.

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Comment by Filippo A. Salustri on August 27, 2011 at 2:07pm

G'day Thomas.

A couple of quick comments.

Having known a number of catholics, I assure you that there is very significant hatred of LGTB people within the school system.  And in the end, it doesn't matter how LGTB are treated on earth, the church still believes they're taking the express elevator to hell once they die.  I know this because I've read documents and spoken to people within the church.

In any case, there's a conflation of church doctrine and TCDSB policy here.  There is no question TCDSB is anti-gay, and the church isn't really pressing them because it's convenient.  The church can make all the proclamations it wants, but groups like TCDSB are intolerant, so the church gets what it wants - promulgation of the idea that LGBT folks are "bad" - but can just blame localities when it's hand is forced.

Iacobelli may not have argued his case well, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to it.

Comment by Doubting Thomas on August 27, 2011 at 5:14pm

The Church feels that they are suffering from some kind of disorder or mental conflict of some kind but that gay men and women are still human beings who deserve equal treatment. Regardless, I was checking out the rest of the newspaper in question and the whole thing is a religious fundamentalists wet dream. I likely wasted by breath trying to refute very close minds.

Comment by Filippo A. Salustri on August 27, 2011 at 11:06pm

Well, at least you have goodness in you: you gave them the benefit of the doubt.  It may be depressing to find that you may have wasted your time, but it's important to keep an open mind, even with respect to them.


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