TORONTO – In a letter to the Trustees of the Toronto Catholic District School Board (copy obtained by the Corriere Canadese and reprinted in November 19th’s edition), his Eminence was unequivocal and to the point: “Catholic faith must guide all who are engaged in Catholic education including students, teachers, administrators, and trustees – or that education ceases to be Catholic”.
Over the last month and longer, several trustees, teachers and radical activists have done their utmost on social media, and in “friendly” mainstream press/media to have the TCDSB adopt their own definition of Catholicism, by presenting a questionable argumentation that the Human Rights Code supersedes Catholic doctrine in Constitutionally mandated Catholic Schools.
The issue came to boiling point at a November 11 meeting of the Board when trustees, eager to excoriate one of their own, shouted down a member of the public who tried to read a passage from the catechism.
Here is Cardinal Collins’ description of what he witnessed: “That a Catholic should be criticized and effectively be prevented by Catholic trustees from reading from the Catholic Catechism at a meeting of a Catholic school board is simply reprehensible”. His choice of words speaks for itself as he expresses regret that “[some] engaged in Catholic Education [may] have bought into the fundamentally anti-Catholic narrative that misrepresents Catholic faith as lacking in compassion…” Such analysis tests even the forgiving nature of the pastoral practice for which his leadership – Magisterium – is noted. He adds, “…I question how they can fulfil their sacred mission, and truly serve those who are entrusted to their care.”
Indeed, Cardinal Collins reminds trustees that “commitment to the truths of our faith is pledged in the Oath taken by the trustees of the Toronto Catholic district School Board.”
His letter reprints the text of the Oath and the response: LEADER: “Will you be faithful to the teachings of the Church and to the Primacy of the Roman Ponti . and the authority of the Magisterium?” TRUSTEES (In response): I will.
This reflects an incongruency between duty to office and observance of due process in TCDSB’s governance that the Corriere Canadese – a secular newspaper – has been addressing regarding the Board and its obligations.
The former Interim Integrity Commissioner, Sandhya Kohli – a secular lawyer – in her report to Trustees in August highlighted the premise that Trustees have a special fiduciary obligation. Those special fiduciary obligations are at the heart of the raison d’etre of a Catholic school system. From a legal, constitutional perspective, there is no other justification for a separate school system. The Cardinal is kinder than the Corriere Canadese in his assessment but offers that “It is disappointing when Catholic trustees allow [a] secular vision to replace the fulness of faith articulated in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.” It is a vision which he defines as a “shallow”, and “deceptive spirit of the age”.
It seems that the conduct of some trustees at the November 11 meeting was an indication on their part of “a nervous attentiveness to how people might possibly react to a proclamation of that faith and be offended”.