Speaking with a Forked Tongue

by | September 20, 2015

Long before George Orwell used the word doublespeak in his novel 1984, many Native American tribes used the expression, “speaking with a forked tongue” to mean “to make false promises or to speak in a way which is not honest or to describe “a person who says one thing and does another.” The Roman Catholic Church has elevated speaking with a forked tongue to an art form, and the members of the Catholic hierarchy are masters of doublespeak.

For example, an article in the Catholic Register announces, “New Abuse Guidelines Will Make Canadian Bishops More Accountable.” That’s good news because they couldn’t be any less accountable as Bishop Robert Cunningham’s comment, “The victims of child-molesting priests are partly to blame for their own abuse” shows. The new abuse guidelines, entitled  “On the Protection of Minors,” replace the 1992 document  entitled “From Pain to Hope.” Now that’s an interesting title and prompts the response, “hope for what?” Surely “From Pain to Hope” can’t mean the hope that no priest will inflict pain on minors by sexually abusing them: sexual abuse continued after 1992, nor can it mean the hope that other clergy will stop abusing children or excusing and enabling those who do; they haven’t stopped.

Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini claims the new document has been named “On the Protection of Minors”

“Because the nature of this crisis has become more than what we imagined at the time” there are new rules and new expectations coming to us from the Holy Father, and from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “so we needed to update our own guidelines.”

If the nature of this crisis has become more than what the members of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops imagined, this indicates a failure of imagination on the part of the bishops, which can’t be true because they can certainly imagine religion. Unfortunately they can’t imagine the pain religion can cause.

Halifax Archbishop Anthony Mancini says,

The document will also make a statement about how lay people and various parts of the Church interact with each other.

“We want the tone of the document to be primarily pastoral.”

The Oxford Dictionary defines pastoral as “(In the Christian Church) concerning or appropriate to the giving of spiritual guidance;” therefore, lay people are not encouraged to interact but to react the way they are guided and Mancini is talking through his bishop’s hat.

The 2015 annual Plenary Assembly of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops ended yesterday:

On [the] first day of the meeting, the Bishops received the President’s annual report and reflected on the issue of assisted suicide and euthanasia, as well as on the Calls to Action issued earlier this year by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. They also heard a progress report on the work of the Ad hoc Committee on the Protection of Minors.

Ah yes, those weaselly words protection of minors pop up again and lead to the question “protect how and from what?” Other than the obvious goal to protect minors from sex abuse by those they are encouraged to respect (priests), the Catholic bishops of Ontario are busy finding ways to subvert the sexual education portion of Ontario’s updated Health and Physical Education Curriculum.

In March of this year, Terry McDermott sent an appeal to Ontario’s Catholic parents:

We must tell our church and education leaders to send a strong message that we will not participate in the new curriculum. Furthermore, the Fully Alive program must be re-written to clearly represent Catholic moral teaching. . .

In the Catholic tradition of saying one thing and meaning another, Fully Alive is a euphemism for sexually dead: no sex until marriage with a partner of the opposite sex and no artificial birth control ever. The good news is, according to McDermott, “Fully Alive as taught in our Ontario schools is not very Catholic at all.” However, that may change.

On June 1, 2015, the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE) Ontario released a memo entitled “Catholic Resources for the Health & Physical Education Curriculum (2015)“:

At the request of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, the Institute for Catholic Education has begun the task of developing resources to assist teachers, principals and Catholic School Boards in the implementation of the recently revised Health and Physical Education (HPE) curriculum. Writing teams have been established, and classroom teachers, consultants, program coordinators and administrators from Catholic Boards across the province will be working throughout the summer to produce the required materials.

Although in theory Ministry of Education runs all Ontario publicly-funded schools, in reality the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario run Ontario publicly-funded Catholic schools. As a tweet from @Faithfreeschool says,

Bishops have [the] last word.

Two articles, one from the Flamborough Review and one from the Hamilton Spectator, make this very clear.

According to the article in the Spectator,

Catholic schools will be teaching the province’s new sex-ed curriculum through a “Catholic lens,” but bishops are still deciding what that will look like.

Pat Daly, executive director of the Hamilton Wentworth Catholic District School Board, shares information about the curriculum in Catholic schools:

the [Institute for Catholic Education] ICE vets all curriculum provided by the ministry,  for all subjects — including how interest rates, for example, are taught in the context of social justice issues in math courses.

The information that ICE vets all curriculum provided by the ministry may be news to many people, but it is not surprising: “Bishops have [the] last word.”


The new sex-ed material will be taught through the Catholic board’s Family Life religion program as it has been for years.

The article in the Flamborough Review confirms this,

The materials, developed by the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE), meet the revised curriculum expectations laid out by the Ministry of Education. In the HWCDSB, the information will be delivered as part of the family life curriculum, rather than health and physical education.

and provides more information:

information pamphlets will be provided to every family in the board. The pamphlets break down the specific expectations of the health and physical education curriculum and explain how it would be covered through the family life curriculum.

For example, in the Grade 6 curriculum. . . Students would “explore how love is able to transform people’s lives and reflect on the way in which God created humans to be people of love.” . . .

Grade 7 students

would discuss the experience of sexual attraction and feelings, and examine the need for self-discipline and patience to reach the goal of becoming fully mature males and females. They would also learn about chastity and attitudes and behaviours that reflect their virtue and show respect for the gift of sexuality.

Catholic students will need lots of self-discipline and patience while listening to Catholic bafflegab approved instruction on how to become fully mature males and females. If the Family Life religion course teaches students that sexuality is a “gift,”  what are students taught in biology class?

In addition, Pat Daly told the Flamborough Review,

the Ministry of Education, to date, has indicated their respect for the constitutional rights of Catholic school boards to develop their own family life curriculum.

Difficult as it is to believe, Catholics in Ontario still have the constitutional privilege right  to publicly-funded Catholic education. As Jessica Prince and Grant Bishop argue in a 2014 Globe and Mail article,

There is no longer any principled rationale to justify maintaining public funding for Ontario Catholic schools except that it is what Ontario has done for a century and a half. But inertia is certainly no reason to retain a discriminatory arrangement.

It must be inertia that prevents Ontario tax payers from objecting to a discriminatory arrangement that allows the Catholic Church, an organization that is homophobic, anti-women and worst of all, is an organization responsible for the systemic abuse of children, to control even a portion of public education in Ontario. In fact, it’s not inertia; it’s criminal negligence.

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