Last week, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario issued a three-page brief regarding bills 13 and 14 (the bullying/GSA bills). Although there were a few good points in the brief, it’s largely relativistic in its approach that undermines Catholic teaching on the important issue of homosexual behaviour.
The bill rightly denounces the evil of bullying and deplores the suffering it causes to children. It is unequivocal in condemning bullying as being incompatible with the Gospel and urges that all forms of bullying receive the same attention, not just the most politically-correct ones. It also emphasizes the principle of subsidiarity, calling for specific initiatives against bullying to be decided by individual schools based on their local situation.
These are good points, but you’ll notice that none of them touch on the issue of Catholic teaching on homosexual behaviour. They do eventually get around to that topic in the second half of the brief, with catastrophic results.
Their treatment of gay-straight alliances (GSAs) is a relativistic disaster. Here’s the key paragraph:
Furthermore, there are many different pathways to reach the goal of developing welcoming schools in which all people are treated with love and respect. To attain that goal, which we all desire, each school should follow a way in harmony with its underlying principles. It is not helpful to propose one particular way, such as the one commonly called a GSA, as in some way normative for all. Those who prefer that approach (whatever name is used for a group following that model) can easily find it elsewhere, but Catholic schools have their own highly developed ways of attaining the goal of creating a welcoming school, and offering personal support, ways based upon the Gospel principles which are the foundation of Catholic education. It is not beneficial to insist that they adopt one particular methodology that comes from a different perspective. Surely there is room in our province for alternative approaches. As long as the common goal of a loving school community is attained, diversity of methodology is a benefit which enriches the experience of education. (Source) – Emphasis added.
That paragraph is a relativistic statement that basically says that all approaches to homosexual behaviour are equal. The bishops are essentially saying: It’s okay for the public schools to have GSAs, but we prefer to do things a little differently in our Catholic schools. There’s no particular reason, mind you, it’s just an idiosyncratic preference. We Catholics are a different breed, like a sect of prudes. Different strokes for different folks, eh? That’s the Canadian way. You guys can continue affirming the gay lifestyle but please accommodate our bizarre beliefs.
The last sentence in that paragraph is like a paraphrase of the Winnipeg Statement’s “in good conscience” clause. It’s basically saying that as long as we’re all striving for the same goal of building loving schools, the approaches we use don’t really matter and they’re all good.
No, they’re not all good. Homosexual behaviour is a disorder and the Church has the responsibility to proclaim it. It’s not just a disorder for Catholics, it’s a disorder for everybody because it’s a violation of natural law. By saying that all approaches to homosexual behaviour are equal, the bishops are affirming people in their sin and failing to call them to conversion, which is really the Church’s main reason for existing. Instead of the “new evangelization”, we have the “no evangelization” or even the “anti-evangelization”.
The bishops have failed to show charity towards Ontarians by failing to lead them to the Truth. They apparently don’t want to upset people on their trip to hell. With all the emphasis in the Marshmallow Church on being “nice” and “charitable”, they sure don’t hesitate to let the sheep get devoured by the wolves.
There’s nothing wrong, per se, in arguing that Catholics can achieve the same result of eliminating bullying through different means. However, in making this point, you cannot portray all methods as being morally equal. You cannot claim that affirming gays in their lifestyle is “a benefit which enriches the experience of education“. No! You can, however, make the point that the bullying can be fought with moral means.
What the Bishops Should Have Said
Instead, the bishops should have made three key points.
First, they should have explained, in a simple and charitable way, how homosexual behaviour is a violation of the natural law and a distortion of individual identity. It is therefore unlawful for the government to be promoting, normalizing or legitimizing this lifestyle in any school, public or Catholic.
Second, they should have emphasized that the evil of bullying can only be fought using means that are morally acceptable. Based on such an approach, they should have committed to achieving lower bullying rates in the Catholic school system than in the public system and be willing to be measured and held accountable to that goal. This would prove that bullying can be eradicated through moral means.
Third, they should have politely stated that the Catholic schools would not implement GSAs should the government decide to impose them, and that legal recourse would be sought, if necessary.
That’s how they should have approached this problem. Without selling their souls. Without throwing the faithful under the bus of moral confusion. Or stating – rather matter of factly – that it’s merely a difference in approach that should be respected.
Regarding the second point, Left activists would have been quick to counter that it isn’t sufficient to abolish bullying if you are simultaneously discouraging the gay lifestyle based on the Gospel. In that case, we would have exposed their bill for what it really is, an attempt to legitimize homosexuality and not fight bullying.