TORONTO, December 16, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Tuesday, LifeSiteNews revealed that the Toronto chapter of the Ontario English Catholic Teacher’s Association (OECTA) had passed two resolutions that contravene Catholic moral doctrine on homosexuality. One of the November 24th resolutions, if adopted by the province-wide union as a whole, would make it OECTA policy to pressure Catholic schools, in the course of future contract negotiations, to give up their constitutional right to fire or refuse to hire teachers who are in homosexual relationships.
Campaign Life Catholics, an activist group based in Toronto, says the departure from Catholic faith that this represents is “immediately evident.” What’s not immediately evident, they say, is that this resolution, if adopted by the entire union, would actually have the effect of placing the union in direct opposition to a 1984 Supreme Court decision that ruled in favour of the right of Catholic schools to maintain their Catholic identity.
In the 1984 case of Caldwell v. St. Thomas Aquinas High School, the Supreme Court held that a Catholic school can require its teachers to observe Catholic teachings about marriage, and it can dismiss them if they will not. In that case, the school dismissed a Catholic teacher who married a divorced man in a civil ceremony. The court observed:
As has been pointed out, the Catholic school is different from the public school. In addition to the ordinary academic program, a religious element which determines the true nature and character of the institution is present in the Catholic school. To carry out the purposes of the school, full effect must be given to this aspect of its nature and teachers are required to observe and comply with the religious standards and to be examples in the manner of their behaviour in the school so that students see in practice the application of the principles of the Church on a daily basis and thereby receive what is called a Catholic education. Fulfilment of these purposes requires that Catholics observe the Church’s rules regarding marriage.
According to Suresh Dominic of Campaign Life Catholics, the danger of this resolution having been passed by OECTA’s Toronto chapter “cannot be overstated.” The resolution now moves to a vote at OECTA’s 2012 Annual General Meeting, where if passed, will presumably become binding on all chapters of the union across Ontario.
Suresh Dominic told LSN, “OECTA is attempting to sabotage, from within, a vital right of Catholic schools that was fought for and won, at the Supreme Court.”
He added, “Catholic schools have a right to fire teachers who provide a scandalous example to students. Parents, religious leaders and faithful teachers must demand that OECTA take these Toronto chapter resolutions off the voting eligibility list at its 2012 annual general meeting.”
Catholic lawyer, Geoff Cauchi, who has written two papers on Catholic denominational rights, believes that if this initiative is not defeated, “OECTA would put enormous pressure on Catholic school boards to agree to not exercise the denominational right to prefer teachers who adhere to Catholic moral teachings, over those who do not, in terms of hiring, firing, and promotion.”
Cauchi added, “At the risk of stating the obvious, it is not clear to the Catholic ratepayers of Ontario that every Catholic Board in Ontario has the mindset and courage to resist this pressure.”
Cauchi spoke about the need to fight back: “It’s time for those teachers who are faithful to the Magisterium to summon up the moral courage to express outrage at OECTA’s attempt to undermine the constitutionally mandated and protected mission of Catholic schools, and for Catholic parents and other ratepayers to stand with them and behind them.”
To express concerns about this resolution:
Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association
President, Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association (OCSTA)
Most Rev. Thomas Collins, Archbishop of Toronto
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto (ON) M4T 1W2
Tel: (416) 934-3400 #609
Fax: (416) 934-3452
Most Rev. Gerard P. Bergie, Bishop of St. Catharines
Chair of the Ontario bishops’ Education Commission
P.O. Box 875, St. Catharines (ON) L2R 6Z4
Tel: (905) 684-0154
Fax: (905) 684-7551
For all other Ontario Bishops, click here.