“There is a belief among some that unless one embraces secular symbols, one cannot be inclusive or accepting,” the archdiocese continued. “This is simply not true. Where there are cases of injustice and mistreatment of any student, whether they are bullied or rejected due to their sexual orientation, appearance, race, sex or any other reason, we must seize the moment, address the situation and ensure that we lead by example, as we foster a culture of care and love for every individual. That truth is perfectly represented in our most fundamental Catholic symbol: the cross.”
The statement recognized that presenting Catholic teaching at times will “clash with the views held by many in society” whether on human sexuality, sanctity of life, social justice issues, or other beliefs.
“Those who are faithful to these teachings are often ridiculed, mocked and excluded. Frequently, since the time of Jesus, Christian teaching has not aligned with currently prevailing opinions,” it said.
The statement noted that many groups work for many different causes, and many school boards “wisely” decide to fly only the Canadian flag “out of a sense of equity for all.”
In a March 23 letter, Cardinal Collins addressed all Catholic school board trustees, directors of education, and all Catholic institutions about the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which he called the sign of Christ’s “true compassionate love” that all young people deserve.
He noted that the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus falls on June 11 and that June is celebrated in the Church as the Month of the Sacred Heart. He encouraged the celebration of this feast and the month.
“I ask all Catholic schools to focus throughout June, the Month of the Sacred Heart, on this profound symbol of what our life in Christ is all about – of what Catholic education is all about,” he said in the letter, a copy of which the Toronto archdiocese provided to CNA.
Cardinal Collins cited the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, as well as other suffering.
“Across the globe, refugees flee oppressive regimes, and the blood of martyrs rebukes us in our comfortable Christianity. In our own country, social trends antagonistic to the Gospel gather strength,” he said. “To move outward with compassionate love, we need first to go deeper in our life of faith, through prayer, through meditation on sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, and through the sacraments.”
The cardinal said the Sacred Heart devotion is “a treasure, central to our life in Christ, that is hidden in plain sight in our Catholic spiritual heritage.”
“Even in our secular society, the heart is the common sign of love, as we see every Valentine’s Day, but for a Christian the Sacred Heart signifies the steady, reliable, faithful, life-giving love which we experience in Jesus as we encounter him both in the Gospels and in our life of faith; we are called to imitate that faithful love,” he said.
Cardinal Collins invited everyone in the archdiocese to devote June to meditating on the Sacred Heart and to deepen their commitment to “imitate the compassionate love of Jesus, a love that reaches out to the lonely, to the isolated, to the sick, and to all those who are rejected.”
“Along with the cross, the symbol of the Sacred Heart is the Catholic Christian sign of that love,” said the cardinal, who released a 21-page pastoral letter on the Sacred Heart April 28.
Other Catholic school districts are considering proposals about Pride Month. The Halton Catholic District School Board, in Ontario’s Diocese of Hamilton, recently failed to pass a proposal to fly the Pride Flag. However, the board mandated staff training on the issue to encourage “shared understanding” and LGBT Pride awareness. It also requested a review from the Ontario government’s education minister.
The Canadian Community Health Survey for 2015–2016 reported that 1.4% of Canadians over age 15 identify as homosexual and 1.5% identify as bisexual.
Trans Care BC, a transgender-affirming group run by the Province of British Columbia, has claimed that between 1% and 3% of Canadians identify as transgender. Statistics Canada has not previously collected information on such self-identification and is testing responses for the 2021 census.