As opposition grows against the Halton District Catholic School Board (HDCSB) ban on gay-straight alliances, the puppet-masters behind Ontario school board religious dictates are falling further back into the shadows.
Today, the spokesperson for the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops of Ontario (ACBO), the organization that dictates religious teaching to Catholic school boards in the province, was far more reticent about the influence of religious
mandates on school policies than he’s been in the past. Last April, as debate raged over Ontario’s proposed sex education curriculum, Lou Piovesan, the general secretary of the ACBO, was quick to reference those sections of the Constitution that allow Catholic schools to “supersede Ministry of Education” curriculum content.
These days he’s hoping you won’t notice the strings.
"The bishops don’t dictate to the school boards; they give advice,” Piovesan said.
Previously, we posted minutes from the HDCSB that reference a letter from Bishop Paul-André Durocher, chair of the ACBO’s education commission, to all Catholic Board directors. The board used this letter in its motion to justify its amendment to ban GSAs. Most notable about the letter is the bolded line: “In all these areas, our denominational rights as Catholic schools with a specific mandate must be respected” (see embedded letter).
The line, in bold, is hard to miss.
Here’s Lou Piovesan back in April in an email to QMI Agency’s Antonella Artuso regarding Ontario’s proposed new sex education curriculum:
Separate schools will not provide instruction related to faith and morality that is at variance with the teachings of the church, Lou Piovesan, General Secretary of the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario, said in an e-mail Wednesday to QMI Agency.
“In particular, when it comes to matters of faith and morality, the aforementioned denominational rights accorded to Catholic schools in Ontario would supersede Ministry of Education proposed curriculum content,” he said. “Accordingly, if some content (related to faith and morality matters) is indeed determined to be at variance with those principles, it would not be endorsed for use in Catholic schools.”
Will “not be endorsed.” Sounds pretty unequivocal.
Piovesan again today: “This office has no jurisdiction over school boards. The Bishops of Ontario give advice to school boards on various matters pertaining to morality and faith and religious education programs."
Again in April, Piovesan in the Catholic Register:
“As a general response, provincial curriculum which is to be implemented in Catholic schools should respect the denominational rights explicitly accorded in Section 93 of Canada’s Constitution and reinforced in Section 29 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” Piovesan said.
“In particular, when it comes to matters of faith and morality, the aforementioned denominational rights accorded to Catholic schools in Ontario would supersede Ministry of Education proposed curriculum content (in those specific areas) if it is determined that the content is at variance with the principles and teaching of the Catholic Church.”
When asked about the contradiction, Piovesan, the general secretary for a religious body that also instructs Catholic teachers to prepare gay students for a “journey of chastity,” is dismissive:
"I’m not going to argue with you."
Interestingly, Piovesan is also the former director of the HDCSB. He was director when the board banned Philip Pullman’s book The Golden Compass and, just as he was leaving, the board debated a ban of the HPV vaccine.