There are new rules on how to gain entry into Catholic schools in Halton if you want to raise money.
If you want to be allowed to fundraise in the Halton Catholic School Board you need to pledge to follow Catholic doctrine. In bid to keep funding, charities sign Ontario school board’s pledge to follow Catholic doctrine Globe and Mail, March 20th, 2018.
Now if the school board was being truly Catholic, it would be asking agencies to adhere to a more expansive version of Catholic Social Teaching, a truly advanced set of social principles that were developed by Catholic leaders over the past two hundred years as a means of establishing a code for living in the modern era.
However, the Halton Catholic Board is focusing more on a very narrow definition of Catholic principles to pinpoint “either directly or indirectly, abortion, contraception, sterilization, euthanasia, or embryonic stem cell research.” Interesting what happens when you get to pick and choose.
The narrow focus does not do the Halton Catholic Board any favours. What about the Preferential Option for the Poor?
“In a society marred by deepening divisions between rich and poor, our tradition recalls the story of the last judgment (Mt. 25:31-46) and instructs us to put the needs of the poor and vulnerable first” (Sharing Catholic Social Teaching: Challenges and Directions–Reflections of the U.S. Catholic Bishops, p. 5).
Again, what about the Principle of Participation?
“We believe people have a right and a duty to participate in society, seeking together the common good and well-being of all, especially the poor and vulnerable” (Reflections, p. 5).
These are also aspects of Catholic Social Teaching, but they are nowhere evident in the declaration from the Halton Catholic Board.
I have seen this kind of narrow focus before from Catholic agencies. Years ago the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace sought to discriminate against development agencies that did not measure up to their tight definition of what kind of work they would support. Typically, anything that involved women’s reproductive rights was seen as beyond the pale.
I do believe in the right of religious organizations to hold these views. What I find increasingly difficult to stomach is their perceived right to do this while receiving public funding.
I don’t believe there is any implied ‘right’ for religious organizations like the Halton Catholic School Board to discriminate based on a narrow set of principles and still collect public money or call themselves a public institution in the broadest sense of the term.
How can a publically funded organization be allowed to discriminate against well-established charities and non-profits? This certainly calls into question why Ontario still funds Catholic schools.
This whole debate is becoming tiresome. The Globe and Mail quoted Jack Fonseca, a spokesman for the Campaign Life Coalition who supports the actions of the Halton Catholic Board and its stand against ‘a culture of death’.
Under Catholic teachings, it’s very clear that no Catholic dollars should be supporting organizations even indirectly which promote a culture of death,
Globe and Mail, March 20, 2018
Catholic dollars is not the same as public money. Maybe it is time that we realize that you simply can’t talk that way and expect the public to support your narrow view of the world.
We have an election coming up in Ontario very soon. Let’s hope that the political leadership in this province will take a hard look at this issue and work towards eliminating this sort of parochial thinking from the public sphere.
5 thoughts on “Can Public School Boards Discriminate?”
So many different facets to this issue! I’m a religious person, but not Catholic. I am constantly thinking about this government funded discrimination. If they are going provide religious education for some, why not all?
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Excellent, direct and logical piece! That this going on in 2018, a publicly-funded school board dictating which organizations can fundraise based on certain aspects of Catholic doctrine – ridiculous. But then again, many ridiculous things are still going on.
As a raised Roman Catholic, I identify myself with the larger, more generous and inclusive ideas and beliefs of Catholicism. As an educator, I do not want anyone with specific views getting in the way of children learning about a diverse, complex world.
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