The Durham Catholic District School Board (DCDSB) in Ontario has issued a clarification of its position in the Marc Hall case after the airing of a made-for-TV movie which it says “took serious liberties with reality.” In the spring of 2002, Marc Hall, a Grade 12 student at Monsignor John Pereyma Catholic Secondary School in Oshawa won a court battle that forced the DCDSB to allow him to bring his homosexual date to the prom.

Now, after winning that battle, Hall is suing the Board for $100,000 with the help of Ontario Health Minister and homosexual activist George Smitherman. In a press release, the DCDSB gives the date on which the trial will begin: Oct. 11, 2004. “We are a Catholic school board offering education that authentically and fully reflects the teachings of the Catholic church. This is a matter of freedom of religion and of conscience,” said Mary Ann Martin, chair of the board. “It is also our constitutional right,” she added.

Martin went on to say, “We welcome and foster respect and compassion for all persons regardless of race, creed, religious or sexual orientation. The Catholic church accepts individuals who are homosexual as persons who should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity, like any other person. At the same time, however, the church teaches that same-sex romantic activity is immoral. Students with a same-sex orientation are welcome in all Catholic schools, but we insist that they follow the moral teachings of the Catholic church in school-related activities.”

The case has highlighted the split within the Canadian Catholic church and its institutions over doctrinal discipline and faithfulness to Catholic moral principles. A large number of self-professed Catholic individuals and organizations rallied to Hall’s side, including the recently elected premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, Toronto City councillor Joe Mihevic, who served on the organizing committee of World Youth Day, then-federal industry minister Allan Rock and the Ontario Catholic Teachers Union. Official representatives of the Roman Catholic church were late and faint with their support of the board.

Martin said that the case has to do with restricting the freedom of the Catholic church to exercise its authority in its own schools.

“To use the domestic example, a person would not go into a kosher kitchen and insist that bacon be cooked there. A person would not wear shoes in a mosque. These are meant to be places where religious norms apply to everyone. So it is with Catholic schools.”