English Articles

Symbols of “Progress”
from Classrooms to Altars

It was a Shakespearean “et tu Brute” moment. Catholic Archbishop Cardinal’s “guidance” on issues of religion and faith suffered an utter defeat. In the wee hours of Friday morning, the very school board trustees who swore an oath to uphold his [the magisterium’s] teachings in Catholic schools thumbed their noses at him, and by extension at all those who support the Church.

Tuesday, the Cardinal had sent a letter to Toronto Catholic School Board Trustees, and to the wider Catholic audience in his diocese, explaining The Church’s teachings on the inconsistency inherent in maintaining an equivalency the “cross” and the “pride flag”. Catholic teachers’ unions, Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) Senior Staff and the majority of Trustees responded with a “Vaffa” salutation.

Catholic Schools in Toronto will now be obliged to do three things: declare June to be Pride Month, Fly the Pride Flag at the TCDSB administrative Centre and at all TCDSB schools. Not all trustees agreed: Nancy Crawford, Mike Del Grande, Teresa Lubinski and Garry Tanuan were opposed to all three measures; Joe Martino just to the last one.

The others – Frank D’Amico, Markus De Domenico, Daniel Di Giorgio, Norman Di Pasquale, Angela Kennedy, Ida Li Preti and Maria Rizzo – voted in favour of “the flag” and against” the cross”

All trustees had sworn to uphold the magisterium’s teachings on what constitutes Catholicism as a condition of holding office. They must do so again this coming November.The magisterium’s authority is recognized in the Constitution and is prerequisite in Ontario Law for schools to be classified as Catholic. If there is “no faith connection” there cannot be Catholic schools, argued lawyer Joseph Markson in a previous delegation.

From a legal point of view, unless the TCDSB reconciles with the Cardinal, the Trustees and senior Staff could all be held in contempt and be removed from their posts. Lawyer Geoffrey Cauchi cautioned, in a 46-page written communication, that any Catholic elector can bring an application to Court to cause that to happen.

More immediately, from on a faith-religion perspective, the Schism between [some] trustees and the Cardinal suggests Catholics in Toronto can now receive “religious certifications” on matters of Faith from the seven trustees. They can ignore the Cardinal and any of his clergy still loyal to his teachings.

One of those clergy, a Fr. Simoes, was ridiculed and belittled by the seven. It may be a sign of things to come. The Director, Brendan Browne who is the chief Operating officer of the TCDSB, when asked at Board for his interpretation of the Cardinal’s letter said he had a “mentor-mentee” relationship with Cardinal Collins but was – curiously – unprepared to share that guidance with the Board.

None of the delegations on behalf the Motion had anything substantive to offer in support of their position. When trustee Lubinski asked for facts and data she and the public might digest in advance of the vote, none was available. The “experts” and the “expertise” were both absent.

It seemed logical to expect the head of the teachers’ union, Julie Altomare-DiNunzio to back-up her own claim of [systemic homophobia and bullying] in the schools with numbers, she declined. Her teachers are responsible for the environment that apparently breeds those conditions. Ironically, she has been advocating for the lockdown of schools because they are a medically unhealthy breeding ground for Covid-19.

But that is the type of “debate” that prevailed. No one noticed that the schools have been shuttered and are likely to remain that way for the rest of “the academic year”. In fact, Minister Lecce has already signalled as much by warning that people should be preparing for year-round remote learning.

All indicators credit him as the prime motivator behindthe pride movement to eliminate Catholicism the school system. Some parents are rallying around the Cauchi position to “fight back” in the Courts.

It may be their only recourse; the Churches are in virtual lockdown.

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