by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant  •  December 4, 2017

Bishop calls faithful to defend Catholic education system

CALGARY, Canada (ChurchMilitant) – The Catholic education system in Alberta faces growing threats from provincial secularists, warns Bp. Emeritus Fred Henry of Calgary.

Speaking to a November 17 gathering of the Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association (ACSTA) in Edmonton, Bp. Henry addressed the ongoing battle over sex-ed content within Catholic schools.

“Society is struggling with sex education within our school systems,” he noted. “There is an ongoing assault on the human person in our society, and it focuses in part on the Bible truth of the book of Genesis: ‘Male and female, He created them.'”

“Children need help to deal with their sexual urges through a process of self-knowledge and self-control, rather than simply giving it a free reign with the hope that nobody gets hurt in the process,” said Henry.

“They have to be able to seek out positive influences while shunning those things that will cripple our capacity for love,” he said.

We push God out of the picture. We no longer need God, He doesn’t factor anymore into our lives. … We would rather dominate space ourselves with our own solutions.Tweet

The bishop denounced the role of government-change agents, who seem bent on eclipsing Church teaching on sexuality with their own secularist ethic.

“The number of so-called experts has multiplied, and they have assumed the role of parents in even the most intimate aspects of education with regard to emotional life, personality and development, rights and duties,” he said. “These experts know everything … and parents must simply listen, learn and adapt.”

Additionally, Henry commented on the province’s denial of funding for the supplemental curriculum:

We’re putting all this money into dealing with sexually transmitted infections and diseases and neither Alberta Health Services nor the Ministry of Education have granted any money for the Catholic superintendents of the province to develop a curriculum in accordance to the teaching of the Catholic Church, which in the long range will indeed reduce the number of sexually transmitted diseases in the province of Alberta and the country of Canada.

“What a strange, convoluted system of values,” he observed.

Bishop Henry warned against the advancing secularist mindset — the false idea that “we already have the answers, and we really don’t need God at all.”

“We push God out of the picture. We no longer need God, He doesn’t factor anymore into our lives. … The Scriptures, the word of God, are nice stories, fables, but they don’t really have anything to do with it. We would rather dominate space ourselves with our own solutions,” said the bishop emeritus.

The following day, Alberta Education Minister David Eggen addressed the ACSTA conference, professing his support for Catholic education.

“As we develop the new health and wellness sexuality curriculum, we will work with all schools — including Catholic schools — to ensure we are meeting the safety standards for individuals and for our society as a whole,” Eggen asserted. “I know that all of us, including Catholic schools, have the health and welfare of students at their very heart. We’ll work through it. I’m very confident that all of my friends here today will help us achieve that goal,” he said.

“You have my full support as minister of education, and the government of Alberta and Premier Rachel Notley to ensure the integrity of Catholic education in this province, to ensure the strength of faith-based education in this province of Alberta and to ensure that it is fully funded through all forms of our government,” vowed Eggen.

Despite his pledge of support, Eggen failed to allay concerns that the province’s sex-ed curriculum will undermine Church teaching on human sexuality.

On November 5, in their annual letter marking Catholic Education Sunday, the bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories warned:

Calls to dismantle our publicly funded Catholic school system are growing ever louder, and we must not ignore them. It is important that everyone be ready to stand up for our faith and for our schools. Please be prepared to speak out in support of our Catholic schools whenever you can. We are proud of who we are as Catholics. We do not and we shall not apologize to anyone for our faith or for our schools. Everyone knows that the existence of our schools, fully permeated with our faith, is a constitutional right. Everyone should also know that this is a right we shall vigorously defend.

Opponents have begun circulating a petition calling for a referendum on the future of Alberta Catholic schools, arguing they are “obsolete, unnecessary, expensive.”

The petition paints the Catholic school system in a negative light, distinguishing between the province’s “public and inclusive system for almost everyone” and what it describes as “a separate and exclusive system for Roman Catholics.”

The petition was launched as part of former Alberta education minister David King’s Inclusive Diverse Education for All (IDEA) campaign.

“It’s objectionable to me that there’s an education institution that will accept some students as a matter of right, and [the other will] accept students at its sole discretion,” King told HuffPost Canada.

In October, the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta came under fire for their alternative sex-education curriculum proposal. They were excoriated by Establishment media for prioritizing Church doctrine in teaching on human sexuality.

Together with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley, Eggen rebuffed the alternative curriculum designed for use in the province’s Catholic schools.

Submitted by the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta, it would teach Catholic students that homosexual acts are “not part of God’s natural order” and that one’s sex and gender identity are linked from the moment of one’s creation.

Eggen blasted the alternative curriculum, saying it “was never given serious consideration and no funding was provided in response.”

Likewise, Notley rebuked the effort, declaring, “Nowhere do the rights of religious freedom extend to that person’s right to somehow attack or hurt others and that’s what’s happening here.”

“We will not use public dollars to have sexual health programs that deny science, that deny evidence and that deny human rights,” Notley said.

“They can continue to work on [the alternative curriculum] all they want,” she added, “but we ultimately approve the curriculum that goes into schools, and this kind of curriculum will not happen.”

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