One afternoon during the first week of classes this week at Xavier High School in Manhattan, as the various student clubs reconvened, Joseph Papeo walked into Alexander Lavy’s physics classroom. On the walls hung a crucifix and posters of Einstein and Homer Simpson. Two flags flanked the door. One was the American standard, while the other was the rainbow banner of gay pride.Mr. Papeo, 17, was in the classroom for a meeting of Xavier’s Gay-Straight Alliance. A senior and the club’s co-president, Mr. Papeo positioned himself at a dry-erase board, preparing to write a list of the recent milestones for gay rights at Xavier and in the rest of the world.
We should by now be accustomed to the phenomenon of some Catholic leaders undermining Church teaching on pastoral responses to gay and lesbian people while claiming to protect it, but surprises continue. For example, a Canadian student in a Catholic school was not allowed to include in a poster for the schools Gay Straight Alliance, either a poster of Harvey Milk, or this quotation from Milk:
‘All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential’
Bizarre. Sexual orientation is NOT specific to gay people, and is NOT a matter of “self – expression”. The right to be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity, and freedom from any malice or violence, in speech or in actions, are clearly embedded in Vatican teaching on the subject, There is absolutely nothing in the Milk quotation that is remotely in conflict with standard Church teaching – but the school’s action clearly is.
In Ontario, Canada, there has been an ongoing struggle in state-funded Catholic schools to comply with a law there to allow gay-straight alliances (GSA) to form. This controversy added a new wrinkle to it recently when a Catholic school in a Toronto suburb refused to allow a student to use a quote from gay-rights leader Harvey Milk on a poster for the GSA.
The funeral of Jamie Hubley last fall was heart-wrenchingly sad. How could it not have been? Jamie was a talented teen, well-loved by family and friends. But tormented psychologically by depression and physically by bullies, the openly gay boy took his own life. That day, hundreds who packed the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church mourned Jamie, as did thousands across the city who had never met him, but were touched by his story.
Amid the grief, there was some joy, in that the Holy Redeemer’s sensitive homily and eulogies celebrated Jamie’s young life. But most unexpectedly, the service delivered astonishment to many in the congregation. Here was the Catholic Church holding a service for a gay teenager who had committed suicide. There were no euphemisms bandied about, nor did anyone talk around either issue — indeed, the deacon spoke about depression being a “cancer of the mind.” Those who had been raised in that faith all had a similar thought: This isn’t the Catholic Church I grew up with.
And that’s a good thing.
Read more: Ottawa Citizen
- Gay-Straight Alliances save lives, say Ontario students (thestar.com)
- Catholic schools’ opposition to gay clubs revives public-funding debate (life.nationalpost.com)
- FFRF’s ‘Quit the Catholic Church’ ad in weekend USA Today | Secular News Daily (aboriginalpress.wordpress.com)
Catholic leaders lined up Monday to speak out against a new law that would force them to allow “Gay-Straight Alliances” in their publicly funded schools.
School board trustees, as well as the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, suggested the new dictate violates their denominational rights.
Thomas Cardinal Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, said the legislation “overrides the deeply held beliefs” of Catholics and makes “religious freedom … a second class right.”
He also accused the province of “micromanaging” Catholic education.
Read more Ottawa Citizen
All schools — including those in the Catholic system — won’t be able to stop students from calling anti-homophobia clubs “ gay-straight alliances” if dramatic changes to a proposed anti-bullying law are passed.
The change of heart on the minority Liberal government’s Accepting Schools Act, which gave schools a veto on names for any student club, was announced Friday by Education Minister Laurel Broten at a student conference.
“Let’s remember these are student clubs and student voices matter in the naming of a student club,” Broten told reporters.
– full report at Toronto Star