TORONTO – “Che vergogna!” How disgusting; how embarrassing; how disrespectful; how shameful – take your pick of the translation. That was the response of one writer on our editorial board when we looked at the TCDSB Assistive Technology Website, Connections and Conversations Team’s agenda for Tuesday’s meeting.
June, as some may know is Italian Heritage month in Ontario. The TCDSB was apparently not yet aware; not a word to recognize the value and contribution of Catholic Italian Canadians to the Separate Schools system. Not until a banner appeared yesterday in recognition of heritage month for Portuguese, Philipino, Aboriginal and Pride. But still no reference to the Apology the federal government offered for brutalizing the human rights of its Catholic Italian Canadian citizens 80 years ago.
Should it come as a surprise that the meeting was about How does homophobia impact Catholic institutions? The premise is that it exists and that it is all bad. The panelists – dissident priests, radical activists and a Protestant Minister would see to that.
Yet, the current system exists in no small measure because Italian priests from the mid-sixties to the mid eighties went door-to-door urging their parishioners to support the Catholic schools as ratepayers and to send their children to their high schools even at significant financial cost for what was essentially a working-class family oriented community.
They were persuasive. Theirs was a simple message: a trilogy of Family (home), School (skills) and Church (values and message steeped in Gospel and tradition) to provide meaning and purpose for the education of their children. And to let their children be children, even as life is also about becoming!
Their congregations responded in massive numbers. That response led to a previously un-imagined expansion by the MSSB, as the Board was then known, and a corresponding depopulation of many public schools in coterminous school boards.
Of course, priests and lay organizations from Polish and Ukrainian, Slovenian and Croatian communities, with the support and leadership of the archdiocese, developed a similar plan. So did the Portuguese pastors, and later their South American and Philipino colleagues. They were all Catholic – all imbued with the same values structure.
But today the TCDSB is obsessed with “flying the flag”; with setting aside the religious rites and symbols that distinguished Catholic belief systems and values from those of others; with holding meetings designed to “sensitize” educators and administrators to the dangers of “sexualized phobias and Catholicism“; with providing “safe spaces”.
The schools are closed and will be until September. Minister Lecce has willed it so. Catholic schools are flying rainbow flags, as per Minister Lecce’s request, so we now know they are “safe spaces” for students “labouring under the strains” of a Catholic ethic.
Two weeks into the month, it seems not all public schools need to so illustrate their compliance with the “new safety rules”. Lecce’s acolytes have now gone to the next phase of destroying what others have built in the separate schools system of Ontario: a “defunding campaign” against any vestiges of principle, values and ethics in education accompanied by harassment in the Courts of Law against those who hold contrasting views.
The TCDSB will soon come face to face with the Constitutional imperative of bringing its dissident trustees to heel and its defiant employees in line with the religious obligations they contracted to observe. If the archbishop is up to the task of discharging his obligations under that same Constitution, Catholic schools may emerge from this bad dream.
If not… La vergogna continuerà.