Sunday, May 29, 2011

Pornography Destroys the Dignity of the Human Person

In an earlier entry entitled, The CRTC Should not Approve More Pornography, I urged the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to reject the application for Canada’s first porn channel. Regrettably, this hasn’t happened. Instead the CRTC has approved the all-day pornographic channel called Vanessa. Programming will begin in October. There is only one regulation: the channel must make sure there’s "equitable portrayals'' of the sexes and that at least 20 percent of its content is Canadian. So now thanks to the CRTC Canada will have its own porn "stars". We do so much to protect the bottom line, but so little for the heart and soul.

What a sad state of affairs. This unelected regulating body that should protect Canadians from the sin of pornography is the very institution that is making sure this evil will reach and morally destroy the lives of more people. It's the same CRTC that will not grant a licence to any Christian channel to broadcast the Gospel 24 hours, seven days a week, but they have readily said yes a porn station. It's totally absurd. Pornography has already spread throughout the country like a deadly plague of immorality. It’s on the Internet, in the movies, the magazines, the music videos and television. Pornography poisons the dignity of humanity and the quality of social life.

All over the city streets of Toronto there are countless adult movie outlets. The Now magazine that is distributed for free can be found in our local public libraries; it’s filled with adult classifieds and pornographic images. We also have the Naked News that airs from Toronto and it shows nude female newscasters reading the news. Does this not remind you of two biblical cities known and destroyed by God for their impertinent sin?

Recently, Archbishop Raymond Roussin of Vancouver and Bishop Fred Henry of Calgary spearheaded a campaign to stop the phone company Telus from giving its customers a free service enabling them to download pornographic images and videos from their cell phones. With many customer complaints and the leadership of the bishops the company agreed to stop the service.

Here are some additional frightening statistics:

  • Worldwide revenue from pornography is estimated at $57 billion a year
  • There were 4.2 million pornographic websites in 2004
  • Seventy-eight percent of 18 to 24-year old man visit pornographic websites on an average month. Sixty-eight percent of men in their 20s and 30s admit to being regular users of pornography
  • One-third of all visitors to adult websites are women. One out of every six women is struggling with addiction to pornography
  • Half of all hotel visitors order pornographic movies
  • Forty-seven percent of Christians surveyed say that pornography is a major problem in their homes
  • Ninety-eight percent of 8 to 16-year olds have watched online pornography, in most cases while doing school homework

Where does all this sobering information come from? It’s from a pastoral letter to the faithful by Bishop Robert W. Finn in the Diocese of Kansas-City. It’s titled, "Blessed are the Pure In Heart": A Pastoral Letter on the Dignity of the Human Person and the Dangers of Pornography."  Pornography, fornication, prostitution and lust are all offenses against chastity. Here’s what the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches on this:

"Pornography consists in removing real or simulated sexual acts from the intimacy of the partners, in order to display them deliberately to third parties. It offends against chastity because it perverts the conjugal act, the intimate giving of spouses to each other. It does grave injury to the dignity of its participants (actors, vendors, the public), since each one becomes an object of base pleasure and illicit profit for others. It immerses all who are involved in the illusion of a fantasy world. It is a grave offense. Civil authorities should prevent the production and distribution of pornographic materials." (2354)

As responsible citizens and Christians we ought ask ourselves: why have we so easily permitted this degrading material to destroy the moral dignity of so many people and families? Have people become mere commodities to be bought and sold for a price? Pornography offends God because it thwarts His love and plan for humanity. God has given us the gift of life for a higher calling. We are all created by God to live a virtuous life. Blessed John Paul II explains this so well in Love and Responsibility and the Theology of the Body.

The Church in her wisdom clearly identifies this evil and the devastating harm it causes to the person and the soul. She reminds those in charge that they have the ethical obligation to stop the production and the consumption of pornographic products and activities. We all have this moral responsibility. There’s so much to pray for and to be done in Canada.

Additional Resources:

Monday, May 23, 2011

Consecrating Every Day for Life Canada to the Blessed Mother

At the start of this month of May, I attended the Cenacle of Prayer service held by the Marian Movement of Priests. It's held at Our Lady of Assumption Parish in Toronto. The service consists of the celebration of Mass, confession, praying the Rosary and Eucharistic adoration. While praying I thought of consecrating this humble blog effort of Everyday for Life Canada to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I shared the idea with Domenic my co-writer and he happily agreed.

Here then dear Blessed Mother is our pledge to you:

Virgin of Fatima, Mother of Mercy, Queen of Heaven and earth, refuge of sinners, we want to consecrate our blog efforts and postings, in Every Day for Life Canada, in a very special way to your Immaculate Heart.

By this Act of Consecration, we intend to use this blog as part of the obligations assumed by our baptismal consecration. We further pledge to use Everyday for Life Canada to help bring about in ourselves that interior conversion so urgently demanded by the Gospel, a conversion that will free us of every attachment to ourselves and to easy compromises with the world so that like You we may be available only to do always the Will of the Father.

And as we resolve to entrust to You, O Mother most sweet and merciful, our life, our blog and vocation as Christians, that you may dispose of it according to your designs of Salvation in this hour of decision that weighs upon the world, we pledge to live it according to your desires, especially as it pertains to a renewed spirit of prayer and penance, the further participation in the celebration of the Eucharist and in the works this poor Internet apostolate, the daily recitation of the Holy Rosary, and an austere manner of life in keeping with the Gospel, that shall be to all a good example of the observance of the Law of God and the practice of the Christian virtues, especially that of Purity.

We further promise You to post articles which are united with the Holy Father, with the Hierarchy and with our priests, in order to thus set up a barrier to the growing confrontation directed against the magisterium, that threatens the very foundation of the Church in Canada and the rest of the world. Under your protection, we want to be your Internet apostles of this sorely needed unity of prayer and love for the Pope, on whom we invoke your special protection.

And lastly insofar as is possible, we promise to make every effort to try to humbly lead those souls with whom our postings reach to a renewed devotion to You. Mindful that atheism has caused shipwreck in the faith to a great number of the faithful, that desecration has entered into the holy temple of God and that evil and sin are spreading more and more throughout the world, we place all our cyberspace efforts trustingly into your hands, O Mother of Jesus and Our Merciful and Powerful Mother, and we invoke again today and await from you the Salvation of all your children, O Clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary.

To conclude, I want to quote from that great encyclical Fides et Ratio by John Paul Paul II: "May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, be a sure haven for all who devote their lives to the search for wisdom. May their journey into wisdom, sure and final goal of all true knowing, be freed of every hindrance by the intercession of the one who, in giving birth to the Truth and treasuring it in her heart, has shared it forever with all the world." (108)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Defend Catholic Education

The Background

I am a retired teacher with the Toronto Catholic District School Board, (TCDSB). I have taught in three high schools as well as teaching students under the care of the Catholic Children's Aid Society. I never thought for a moment during my entire career that I would find myself in the position of having to defend the Catholic faith and religious freedom in Canada.

Currently, schools in the province of Ontario are in the process of implementing the Ministry of Education's Equity and Inclusive Policy.

The first consultation meeting for the TCDSB took place at St. Mary's School on April 18, 2011. On April 27, 2011 a second meeting took place with parents, students and board administrators at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School. There was a pretense of giving those who attended a chance to voice their concerns and to suggest changes. However, both meetings were orchestrated to manufacture consent in favour of the policy. The trustees are scheduled to vote on this important issue on May 19, 2011.

Meanwhile, the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario Bishops and the Ontario Catholic School Trustees' Association have already agreed to permit the province’s publicly funded Catholic schools to set up a network of clubs to deal with bullying as it relates to sexual orientation.

What is the Argument?

In the Toronto Catholic District School Board's guideline called, "The Catholic Vision of Equity and Inclusivity", under the section titled, "Laws and Interpreting Principles" we find this statement: "In fact in some areas, such as pastoral care of persons dealing with same-sex attractions, long before the government became involved, the bishops of Ontario led the way in setting out a holistic approach rooted in the Gospel, in the virtue of chastity which alone brings true freedom, and in a sensitive respect for the individual."

The problem is how can you ask students to practice chastity if you're going to let them set up “gay” alliances whose very existence says that what they are doing is normal, inclusive and equitable? As a teacher and parent, I believe the students are being morally misled. If we love our students, we need to tell them that homosexual acts are morally against the teaching of the Church. We need to share with them the Church's teaching about human love and the dignity of the human person. We need to have the moral courage to tell them that while in high school they are too young to be experimenting with sex. We need to humble ourselves and pray with them and for them for God's grace. How are school administrators going to protect students with various sexual orientations? An orientation is not like a person's gender that can easily be identified.

The Catholic Church

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the United Nations, in his address at the 16th Session of the Human Rights Council on "Sexual Orientation" said this: "Human sexuality, like any voluntary activity, possesses a moral dimension: It is an activity which puts the individual will at the service of a finality; it is not an 'identity.' In other words, it comes from the action and not from the being, even though some tendencies or “sexual orientations” may have deep roots in the personality. Denying the moral dimension of sexuality leads to denying the freedom of the person in this matter, and ultimately undermines his/her ontological (state of existence) dignity." In every school, there should be respect for all students because we are all made in God's image.

In an Advent Mass Homily to the faculty and students of the Roman states universities, on Dec. 10, 2002, Blessed John Paul II makes this morally instructive statement: "I remember my own experience of the university. From daily contact with students and professors I learned that it is essential to provide an integral formation that will prepare young people for life: an education that educates them to assume their role in the family and in society with responsibility and with not just a professional, but also a human and spiritual competence."

Gay alliances

“Gay alliances” are another way of over-sexualizing and distorting sexual relations for young students. There is no need for this kind of sexual exploitation of the young and innocent. Discrimination based solely on sexuality or focusing on sexual orientation is to demean the human person and reduce students to an activity, a feeling or a thing.

Part four of the TCDSB guideline asks this question: "Is there an increase in harassment of this type (bullying or harassment of gay students) in Catholic schools?" The answer given in the document is: "we are not aware of an increase in harassment of this type, but any type of bullying or harassment in Catholic schools will not be tolerated." So why is the TCDSB and the trustees specifically addressing bullying related to sexual orientation if, by their own admission, they have not seen an increase in such behaviour? Their own evidence would seem to indicate that there is no need to start these support groups in schools. Why not combat all forms of bullying without distinctions? Through baptism, Christians are already called to love God and every neighbour.

The Conclusion

I want to conclude, since we are dealing with young students, by quoting from the recently published YOUCAT: Youth Catechism of the Catholic Church. This Catechism book will be given to every participant attending this year's World Youth Day to be held in Madrid. The text is structured in a Question and Answer format.

Question 65 states: "What about people who feel they are homosexual?" Here's the answer: "The Church believes that, in the order of creation, men and women are designed to need each other's complementary traits and to enter into a mutual relationship so as to give life to children. That is why homosexual practices cannot be approved by the Church. Christians owe all persons respect and love, regardless of their sexual orientation, because all people are respected and loved by God."

As Catholic teachers, administrators and parents we must pray for the moral responsibility and courage to teach this. No provincial government is qualified to do this. The state ought to protect not take away religious freedom from its citizens.

Personal example

Let me also share a personal example with you. When I taught students in the alternative program with the Catholic Children's Aid Society, I'll never forget the day a student came to class and announced out loud, saying he was "gay". After constant arguments and even a fight, it took several weeks to bring that class back to "normal".

The new student got a lot of attention and most of it was negative. Both myself and the youth worker encouraged the entire class to respect and to give everyone a safe learning space. At one point, the new student wanted to go out on a date. According to him, he had met this other gay person on the Internet. He believed what he had been told at face value. We needed to explain that the information on the Internet is not always true....lots of room for counselling here.

Both the youth worker and myself decided to try get this student to focus more on his education and less on his sexuality and dating. It was a difficult process, but within months and with much support, he began to be more interested in his school work and hardly talked about his sexuality. It soon was no longer the issue in our class. Six months later he returned to a regular school.

I'm not saying that this is the answer in all cases, but I do want to say that educators, parents and students need to primarily focus on education and not sexuality. Once students know that you care for them, they will trust that you truly have their well being at heart and they will respond with the appropriate behaviour.

Another consideration

The denominational nature of the Catholic School System is never to be considered an issue of discrimination of any kind. This denominational right is protected in law by the British North America Act (Constitution Act 1867) section 93 and also in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (April 17, 1982) section 29.

Why have Catholic boards and trustees across the province been so reluctant to defend this right? It is the Catholic community that has been lied to and bullied into implementing the policy. There is no moral, but also no legal reason for accepting the Equity and Inclusivity policy.

Lastly, whether we call them equity groups or gay alliances the message will certainly be confusing to the average student. Who will protect the majority of students? This is why as a Catholic teacher and parent I feel compelled to speak up for Catholic education. I hope and pray that on May 19, 2011 our Toronto Catholic school trustees vote to amend the Equity policy to truly reflect Catholic teaching.

Even better, they have a constitutional right to reject this policy completely. Our students, our children, need our prayers and our guidance for their sake and the sake of Catholic education in Ontario.