Toronto, Canada, Jun 7, 2012 / 03:10 am
Catholic schools in the province of Ontario will abide by a law requiring them to allow “Gay-Straight Alliance” clubs, despite concerns about the loss of religious freedom.
“The Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario has expressed serious concerns regarding certain aspects of this legislation, as have numerous other individual citizens and groups,” said Cardinal Thomas C. Collins of Toronto, after the Ontario Legislature passed the measure known as Bill 13.
“Recognizing that the 'Accepting Schools Act' is now the law, Catholic partners will seek, as we have always done, in a way that is in accord with our faith, to foster safe and welcoming school communities,” Cardinal Collins said in a June 5 statement.
The cardinal reaffirmed that bullying “in any form, is unacceptable.” He also stressed the Church's commitment “to welcome every person with love and respect.”
Bishop Frederick J. Colli of Thunder Bay told CBC News that Catholic schools would follow the law by allowing “gay-straight alliance” clubs if students request them. He also said the groups would have adult oversight to protect schools' Catholic identity.
“We will remind the students about the teachings of the Catholic church and about what the Catholic faith expects of them and also about what our Catholic values are because that’s the basis of our schools,” Bishop Colli told the CBC.
He stressed that the Catholic faith affirms the fundamental dignity of all people, but noted that the Church cannot support the “homosexual lifestyle.”
Proposed as an effort to stop bullying, the Accepting Schools Act was eventually amended to force Catholic schools to allow “gay-straight alliance” groups.