His Eminence, Thomas Cardinal Collins released May 28, 2012 a statement on the recent proposal from the Ontario Provincial Government to force Catholic Schools within the Separate School system to create and maintain "anti-bullying clubs" under the narrow and ideological title of "Gay-Straight Alliance" (GSA). You will notice that as the Cardinal unfolds his concerns and arguments against the government proposal, he moves the debate away from the frivolous name-calling of the various interest groups to the heart of the issue: State control over the conscience of the individual person. This, I would argue is fascism.*
The Cardinal has made some key observations that Catholics need to reflect and act upon:
I question, however, why provincial legislation should make this particular method normative in a Catholic school, which has its own different but effective methods of attaining the goal of addressing bullying and providing personal support for all students, ones which, unlike GSAs, arise out of its own fundamental principles and are in harmony with them. If the point is that there is something unacceptable about those Catholic principles, then I find that troubling, and wonder whether caricatures of Catholic faith are in play.
As pastor of a large diocese, on the road constantly visiting the people, I have again and again heard concern from parents and educators about the proposed imposition of the GSA methodology on Catholic schools. That same concern has been expressed to me by people of other faiths, since parents often choose to send a child to a Catholic High School precisely because they expect a particular approach to life which is largely in harmony with their family and faith convictions.
...trustees and principals are legitimate stewards of the spiritual tradition of the school, and in a Catholic school, that includes the Catholic faith tradition. Why should the power of provincial law be used to override that legitimate adult authority so that this one particular method can be imposed ?
To the members of our Catholic community: I urge you to reflect on the implications for Catholic education of this sudden government change in policy...we need to consider the path ahead.
...please consider the implications for all when legislation is enacted that overrides the deeply held beliefs of any faith community in our province, and intrudes on its freedom to act in a way that is in accord with its principles of conscience. If it happens to us, it can happen to you, on this and other issues. When religious freedom becomes a second class right, you also will eventually be affected.
*"Fascism, in short, is not only the giver of laws and the founder of institutions, but the educator and promoter of spiritual life. It wants to remake, not the forms of human life, but its content, man, character, faith. And to this end it requires discipline and authority that can enter into the spirits of men and there govern unopposed." Mussolini