The six trustees have demonstrated that they are unfit to serve as Trustees of a Catholic School Board. They have the difficult position of having to “serve two masters” – the Ontario Ministry of Education and the Catholic Community in Halton, which includes both the Catholic people and the institutional Church. However, they do not seem to understand that even the Education Act recognizes that, in respect of purely secular issues, a Catholic Board is accountable to the Ministry of Education, but that, in respect of denominational issues, it is accountable solely to the Catholic community and the Church.i Consider also the Code of Canon Law. ii Moreover, at least five of the six do not seem to recognize that they have no duty to listen to special interest groups like gay activist groups, who have no stake in Catholic education and who indeed have demonstrated that they are opposed to the goals, and possibly the very existence, of Catholic education.
In the case of one of the six, Paul Marai, he was elected after a campaign waged under false pretenses, and he now finds himself in an unmanageable ideological conflict of interest position. Any person with an ounce of integrity left in him would do the honourable thing and resign. I would say the same thing if any member of a local board of Planned Parenthood (a group that promotes abortion) or Dying With Dignity (a group that promotes euthanasia), or a member of the Canadian Humanist Association (i.e. militant atheists) had been elected. In his case and these others, membership in aggressively anti-Catholic organizations is fundamentally incompatible with holding a leadership position in a Catholic organization. By his conduct, he has demonstrated that his first loyalty is to the gay activist organizations he supports. His election has to be profoundly demoralizing to those faithful Catholic teachers in the Halton Board who, as it is, struggle on a daily basis to undo the damage done by colleagues who see themselves as covert social change agents, promoting in the classroom causes that contradict Catholic teaching.
As for the chair of board, did she seek legal counsel on the legality of permitting Mr. Marai to even be present during that part of the meeting during which the existing Policy was to be discussed? Mr. Marai owes “fiduciary obligations” to the Board and its ratepayers over and above those that may be prescribed by the Education Act or the Board by-laws or policies,iii and these duties arguably include the duty to avoid such ideological conflicts of interest. The lawful and ethical course of action in this case would have been to require him to publicly declare his conflict of interest, absent himself from the room, and, of course, not vote on the matter. This calls into question not only the legal validity of the decision made on the 11th, but also that of any future full Board decision on the matter if Mr. Marai is permitted to be present during the deliberations (and certainly if he is permitted to vote on it).
The current Equity and Inclusion Policy attempts to satisfy both of the “masters” referred to above – to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s. Any attempt to now adopt something closer to the model proposed by the government and demanded by gay activist groups would contradict the fundamental content of faith and morals taught by the Catholic Church.
To the five of the six trustees (excluding Paul Marai) I say that you have shamefully succumbed to the technique of psychological warfare often used by gay activist groups – “jamming”.iv It is embarrassing to compare your response under pressure to that of St. John Fisher and St. Thomas More. Recall that, as he went to his execution for refusing to acknowledge King Henry VIII, instead of the Pope, as the head of the Church in England, St. Thomas More said: “I die the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” So, even if it ultimately happens that the Ministry of Education “orders” the Board to adopt its model policy instead, your obligations as Catholics supersede those owed to public authorities, and you have no choice but to refuse to comply with any such directive from the government (see the Catholic Catechism, No. 2242).
i. Consider sections 230.19 and 257.52 of the Education Act:
nothing in this part authorizes the Minister [of education] to interfere with or control,
the denominational aspects of a Roman Catholic Board; …
the powers under this part shall be exercised in a manner that is consistent with,
the denominational aspects of a Roman Catholic board; …
Section 257.52 says the same thing. These two sections are in parts of the Act that deal with what happens when the Ministry of Education has been compelled to intervene and take over administration of the schools where the board has either failed to comply with Ministry directives on administrative issues, or run into financial troubles. In my view, this language demonstrates that the Legislature has recognized the superior constitutional rights of Catholics in respect of education, in matters that affect the faith.
ii Consider canons 803 to 806:
A catholic school is understood to be one which is under the control of the competent ecclesiastical authority or of a public ecclesiastical juridical person, or one which in a written document is acknowledged as catholic by the ecclesiastical authority.
Formation and education in a catholic school must be based on the principles of catholic doctrine, and the teachers must be outstanding in true doctrine and uprightness of life.
No school, even if it is in fact catholic, may bear the title “catholic school” except by the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.
The formation and education in the catholic religion provided in any school, and through various means of social communication, is subject to the authority of the church. It is for the episcopal conference to issue general norms concerning this field of activity and for the diocesan bishop to regulate and watch over it.
The local ordinary is to be careful that those who are appointed as teachers of religion in schools, even non-catholic ones, are outstanding in true doctrine, in the witness of their christian life, and in their teaching ability.
In his own diocese, the local ordinary has the right to appoint or to approve teachers of religion and, if religious or moral considerations require it, the right to remove them or to demand that they be removed.
The diocesan bishop has the right to watch over and inspect the catholic schools situated in his territory….. He has also the right to issue directives concerning the general regulation of catholic schools……
iii Directors and officers of corporations and non-profit organizations are frequently placed in situations where their own interests conflict with the best interests of the organization, which they are obligated to support. Anyone in such a fiduciary capacity is not permitted to enter into engagements where there is or may be a conflicting interest. The test of “may possibly conflict” is what a reasonable person, in similar circumstances, would think of as giving rise to a real and sensible possibility of conflict. There is no reason why these principles would not apply to the Trustees sitting on a Catholic School Board.
iv In his article Selling Homosexuality to America, marketing expert Mr. Paul Rondeau explores how gay rights activists use rhetoric, psychology, social psychology, and the media–all the elements of modern marketing – to position homosexuality and frame what is discussed in the public arena. Rondeau not only introduces the marketing strategies employed by homosexual activists such as Desensitizing, Jamming, and Converting, he also illustrates each with real examples exposing the systematic, orchestrated, and largely successful efforts of the homosexual activists to “normalize” homosexuality in the public eye. Rondeau, of Regents University, says: “Jamming is psychological terrorism meant to silence expression of or even support for dissenting opinion.”
Geoff Cauchi is a lawyer and a Halton Catholic ratepayer. This article was originally sent to the board members of the Halton Separate School Board under the title, “Why the six trustees who voted on Jan. 11, 2011 to rescind the Halton Board’s current equity and inclusion policy ought to have the integrity to resign from office.