Josie Luetke

Interim writer, Josie Luetke, Talk Turkey

I’ll begin as Pope Francis did: I am a sinner. I write the following, not from my high horse, but as a Christian desperately needing leadership.

The Pride flag already takes a symbol of God’s promise and perverts it into a celebration of the deadly sins of pride and lust. The flying of these flags at Catholic schools adds insult to injury—a boast that your kids are not safe, your institutions are not your own. There is nothing the LGBTQ lobby will not conquer.

The silver lining is that the corruption already within classrooms has been exposed.

That it felt like it was mainly (but thankfully not exclusively) the laity opposing this highly emblematic public rejection of Church teaching (and ultimately the Church itself) is unfortunate. That no bishop has stepped in to strip these perceptibly no-longer-Catholic boards of their “Catholic” titles is also regrettable.

The Archdiocese of Toronto released a “reflection” arguing that “the appropriate symbol that represents our faith, and the inclusion and acceptance of others, is the cross” and that secular symbols are not necessary to communicate this message. While the statement is welcomed, notably absent is instruction to Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB) trustees to vote against the flying of the Pride flag. In fact, the concluding paragraph begins: “To be clear, locally elected Catholic school trustees will ultimately determine the path forward…”

A loophole.

Now, said trustees can claim ignorance—that while this flag is perhaps superfluous, it doesn’t hurt that much either.

Maybe I’m nitpicking, and so I present to you Exhibit B.

None of these fights over Pride flags occurred in a vacuum. What preceded this debate was a very heated one about the addition of “gender identity” and “gender expression” in the TCDSB Code of Conduct (because of which faithful trustee Mike Del Grande—God bless him—is still engaged in a legal battle).

The Archdiocese of Toronto again put out a statement, noting: “Ministry of Education policy, PPM 128, directs that the prohibited grounds of discrimination found in the Ontario Human Rights Code be included in updated Codes of Conduct for all school boards in Ontario. While the archdiocese recognizes that terms such as gender identity are included in the Code, we do not accept the view of the human person which underlies this terminology, since that view is not compatible with our faith.”

The language is precise—the view of the human person underlying the terminology is rejected, but not necessarily the terminology itself, and again, the trustees aren’t explicitly instructed.

Such explicitness is necessary because Trustee Markus de Domenico, for instance, in his questioning of me when I delegated to the Board on the topic, argued that the adoption of this terminology was not about whether the board accepts the underlying view of the human person, but rather, whether or not discrimination against LGBTQ students should be condemned.

In addition, in a report to the Board, it was claimed that “The Archdiocese will accept all prohibited grounds of discrimination as enumerated in the Ontario Human Rights Code, consistent with PPM 128, providing the policy contains language recommended by the Archdiocese which contextualizes that this policy will be interpreted through the lens of the Catholic faith as articulated by the teachings of the Church and protected in legislation.”

I think I’ve made my point, but just to be comprehensive, the Archdiocese of Toronto, in the lead-up to the 2019 federal election, organized a debate and released a number of resources that highlighted, amongst other issues, “human dignity,” but did not communicate that it is impermissible to vote for pro-abortion politicians when pro-life alternatives are available.

I recognize that there are legal, political, and perhaps financial reasons why they’re sometimes inexplicit, and I appreciate that they have at least attempted to provide guidance (as opposed to other dioceses, which are silent or even flat-out misleading their flocks, not that relative goodness matters). I’m only singling out the Archdiocese of Toronto because it provides such an effective example.

With the utmost humility, this “read between the lines” approach is insufficient.

Practically, too many people are ignorant. They don’t read, let alone between the lines. Too many are false prophets in sheep’s clothing looking for loopholes to exploit.

On principle, just be as clear as possible.

Our expectations are too low. We’re often grateful to clergy for merely dog whistling that they agree with Church teaching on life and family issues. I know I don’t know the pressures of their position. I just know from where I stand—in both the gutter and trenches—it’s not enough. Lead me.