Catholic Education versus Gay Rights

Christopher Karas, “who has filed an application to The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario alleging systematic homophobia by teachers and administrators at the Conseil Scolaire de District Catholique Centre-Sud (CSDCCS),” is a brave young man.

It takes a lot of courage and determination to challenge his own school and school board, especially since his challenge raises “the issue of how the publicly-funded religious school system in Ontario treats students who do not identify as straight.” Karas is not only challenging the Catholic school system in Ontario; he is challenging the most powerful religious organization in Ontario: the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, which is headed by Thomas Cardinal Collins, who is Archbishop of Toronto and ACBO’s president.

Karas and Karas’ lawyer maintain a naive, positive attitude toward Catholicism and Catholic teaching:

Karas’ lawyer Jean-Alexandre De Bousquet said discrimination against gay people is not a core tenet of Catholicism and therefore shouldn’t be protected.

and

Karas does not actually think the incidents he alleges in his application are in line with Catholic teaching. He said Catholics above all believe in care and respect for others.

Despite the way Karas and his lawyer define Catholicism and identify its tenets, a 2012 document from the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association entitled “Respecting Difference” is very clear that the “primary teaching document of the Catholic Church is the Catechism of the Catholic Church.” Attention on the Catechism’s pronouncements on chastity and homosexuality has commonly focused on one phrase “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.”  However, sections 2357 -2359 of the Catechism are more detailed:

Chastity and homosexuality

2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.

2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. 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.

2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.

The assertion that the “primary teaching document of the Catholic Church is the Catechism of the Catholic Church,” affects all subjects and extra-circular activities in publicly-funded Catholic schools.  Reading literature that does not conform to Catholic teaching is discouraged or banned, students are given time away from classes to attend pro-life rallies, and the wording and naming of pro-LGBT posters and clubs is closely monitored and restricted.

It is clear that the “core tenet[s]” of Catholicism are what the Catholic hierarchy says they are, and the idea that “Catholics above all believe in care and respect for others” is a naive view of the Catholic Church and its leaders. What Moira McQueen, executive director of the Canadian Catholic Bioethics Institute and theology teacher at the University of Toronto’s St. Michael’s college, calls “guidelines to be a ‘good’ Catholic” are homophobic and subjective and are designed to perpetuate the numerous abuses of Catholic teaching in Ontario.

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