HAMILTON, Ontario, November 20, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Catholic school board in Ontario has invited a Catholic theologian known for opposing Church doctrine to lead its upcoming “Faith Day” retreat that it says will help staff and educators “relax and rejuvenate”. The invitation has some Catholic teachers up in arms.
Prof. Thomas Groome, a laicized priest, will address almost 4,000 Halton Catholic District School Board (HCDSB) staff at the mandatory November 22 Professional Activity Day (PA Day) in Hamilton’s Copps Coliseum. Hamilton’s Bishop Douglas Crosby will preside over the morning Mass prior to Groome’s presentation.
Concerned Catholic parents and teachers are organizing a protest outside the venue. They say that a Catholic school board should not be giving a platform to what they call an “infamous” Catholic dissenter.
“Groome is opposed to many Catholic teachings, even dogmatic ones, such as the prohibition of the ordination of women solemnly defined by Blessed John Paul II,” said an HCDSB Catholic educator to LifeSiteNews.com under the condition of anonymity. “He has no place in mentoring Catholic teachers.”
The source said the HCDSB was “very sneaky” in withholding information about Groome as the keynote speaker until the middle of last month, despite various inquiries throughout the past year from inquisitive parties.
“They dropped this on us like a bomb, when it was too late to do anything about it,” the teacher said.
The source pointed out that Groome, a prolific speaker in high demand, would have been booked months if not a year in advance.
Faithful teachers and parents are hoping to send a strong message to the board.
“Please pray that God helps us and that people can be mobilized in time to send a strong message that enough is enough,” stated an email, obtained by LSN, to supporters.
Groome, Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College, is a critic of Church teaching on papal authority and conscience, and openly advocates for women priests.
In the 2012 U.S. election, he publicly supported the re-election of President Obama, arguing that his “conscience prompts me to support President Obama as a practical strategy to reduce abortion in America.”
“The dilemma for citizens like me is that the great majority of our fellow Americans favor some possibility of abortion and do not want to criminalize it again," he wrote.
“In this light, the most feasible moral choice is to reduce the number of abortions. So, Catholics like me and citizens of like mind should support the candidate who has the best abortion reducing policies.”
President Obama has pushed more policies against the unborn than any other administration, earning the title “the most pro-abortion president in history” from pro-life advocates.
Groome has also served as a member of the speaker’s bureau for Voice of the Faithful, a dissident group denounced by numerous bishops, who have forbidden its meetings on Church property. His books have been banned in the Archdiocese of Sydney, under Cardinal George Pell.
Prof. Groome’s views have been very influential in the Catholic education establishment. A religion course by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) for educators seeking to become a “religious education specialist” has Groome’s “Educating for Life” as the only required reading for the entire course.
Prior to the “Faith Day”, Groome will explain to parents at Holy Trinity Catholic Secondary School how to become “faith leaders in the home” in an open event Thursday night sponsored by the HCDSB.
Groome’s presentations to HCDSB parents and teachers will take place just two weeks after HCDSB trustees allowed the controversial HPV vaccine in the schools despite strong opposition from parents and moral theologians.
Bishop Crosby, when asked by LSN for comment on having Groome instruct Catholics in his diocese, responded that the “Diocese of Hamilton has no comment on this issue.”
Archbishop Pedro López Quintana, Apostolic Nuncio to Canada
724 Manor Avenue
Ottawa, ON KIM OE3
Phone: (613) 746-4914
Fax: (613) 746-4786
Bishop Douglas Crosby, Diocese of Hamilton
700 King Street West
Hamilton, Ontario L8P 1C7
Phone: (905) 528-7988 x2222
Send email here.
Halton Catholic District School Board trustees contact info here.