Monday, May 28, 2012

Bill 33 will make religious freedom unlawful in Ontario

As if Bill 13 weren’t unjust enough, there’s another piece of misguided Liberal legislation called Bill 33 that has passed second reading and will soon probably become law in Ontario. Bill 33 has, for the most part, gone under the radar because of all the public criticism of Bill 13. We must say public attention since most of the mainstream media have declared a blackout in their coverage. The Liberals are politically doing all they can to pass both Bills 13 and 33. The legislation proposed in Bill 33, known as Toby’s Act, is to provide additional legal backing for the right to be free from discrimination and harassment based on "gender identity" and "gender expression". Bill 33 covers the workplace while Bill 13 will do the same thing in schools. The deceptive end game is the same: Legally force Ontarians to accept and try to normalize all the socially constructed "sexual orientations".

Bill 33 is designed to further liberalize the Ontario Human Rights Code. There's a very good chance you never heard of these major changes to the Ontario Human Rights Code being considered through this new legislation. With this in mind, shouldn't we, in a democracy, be asking this question: Why does our government not consult with its citizens when considering the passage of a law that will have huge social and moral repercussions for both present and future generations?

Tabled by NDP MPP Cheri DiNovo, Bill 33 will amend the Ontario Human Rights Code. There are a number of changes proposed, but essentially it’s about inserting the words "gender identity" and "gender expression" wherever the term sexual orientation currently appears in the document. In total, there are seven Sections and Subsections of the Bill where this new language will be added. In Subsection 7 (1, 2) of the Bill, the revised version will add the words “because of sex” and the new wording will state, “because of sex, gender identity or gender expression”. 

The terms "gender identity" and "gender expression" are fluid and thus difficult to clearly define. However, should anyone question their definition you're likely to be labelled as being a bigot and intolerant. Even worse you may be accused of being "homophobic", a word with no clinical or legal meaning, but  which serves to arrest open discussion of the topic. Thus, Ontario citizens are being legislated into accepting the decoupling of human sexuality from biology. Socially constructed sexual orientations will trump natural law and religious beliefs.

Bill 33 proposes to drastically change the Ontario Rights Code by specifying that every person has the right to "equal treatment" without discrimination based on gender identity or gender expression. This "equal treatment" will apply in Ontario in the following areas: services, accommodation, contracting, employment and membership in a trade union or a self-governing profession. Currently the Standing Committee on Social Policy is holding hearings, but the bill is expected to pass third reading and if the governing Liberals have their way it will become law in Ontario.

Bill 33 and Bill 13 are designed to legally force all citizens to accept sexual orientations and gender identity.  However, if every citizen has the right to "equal treatment" than why does Bill 33 give preferential treatment to one group by referring to gender identity and gender expression? We can only assume that if we say every person is equal before the law, then we mean every person has a right to equal treatment. Otherwise Orwell's fictional Animal Farm has now become the new reality in Ontario Farm with all the doublespeak and the "some are more equal than others" proposed legislation.

Let's be clear: Bill 33 is more deceptive legislation claiming to be about human rights when in fact it will put the arm of the law against Christians and every cultural group that, if they obey the law, must reject their own teaching about human sexuality, the family and parental rights. Make no mistake about it. Bill 33 will make religious beliefs about these all important issues, illegal. Bill 33, along with Bill 13, is another attack on religious and multicultural freedom. 

A good and just law should protect parental rights, religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Bill 33 does none of that. Bill 13 does none of that. Without these protections, Ontario and Canada will never be great places to live and raise children because true human liberty and religious freedom, the building blocks of the Common Good, have been made illegal. God help us if this happens.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The family: a true school of love and faith

On May 30 to June 3, 2012, the 7th World Meeting of Families will take place in Milan, Italy. There's even an official app that can be downloaded for your smartphone. In the You Tube video with this entry, you can watch Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and Cardinal Anthony Scola, Archbishop of Milan, hold a recent press conference to announce this year's theme: "The Family: Work and Celebration."

This event has become a wonderful world celebration to strengthen and promote the value of the family as a Common Good. The family is both a true school of love and faith; it's a domestic church as we see in the Holy family of Nazareth. Whether families attend the event or not, the yearly celebration offers families  and parishes all over the word useful spiritual resources. For example, the yearly theme is developed thorough a series of catecheses:

1. The secret of Nazareth
2. The family generates life
3. The family is put to the test
4. The family animates society
5. Work and celebration of the family
6. Work, as a resource for the family
7. Work, a challenge for the family
8. Celebration, a time for the family
9. Celebration, a time for the Lord
10. Celebration, a time for the community

The contents and structure of these activities can be downloaded and used in parishes and in families to guide and to instruct family members about the faith. Parents will see that they have an enormous responsibility to evangelize their children at home and through parish life. In Familiaris Consortio, Blessed John Paul II, reminds us that the family has four important roles in society: Forming a community of persons, serving life, participating in the development of the society and sharing in the life and mission of the Church. 

Cardinal Scola, pointed out that the topic chosen for Milan will bring, "together the three fundamental aspects of man's daily life -- family, work and rest -- highlights two major traits ... of human experience all over the world: the uniqueness of individuals and the fact that they are always in relation to others. Thus this 7th World Meeting of Families has interpreted the perennial importance of these questions and of this historical moment."

The Archbishop went on to say, "The family founded on faithful marriage between a man and a woman, and open to life, over the cultural developments that have affected it, still imposes itself as the best way to generate and raise children. In the family, the child ... sees the future as a promise. From infancy we all discover the meaning of work, first as school work and then as a profession. Through work ... we develop complex social relationships ...We discover a taste for building ... but above we gain a sense of reciprocal trust, which is the vital cement of human coexistence."

He concluded with, "Life imposes its rhythm on us. It requires us to establish an order between family affections and work. In doing this we are helped by rest, which marks the rhythm of life ... Celebration is the apex of rest, a gratuitous and shared use of time and space which is the source of joy. Man becomes reconciled with himself, with others and with God. It is no coincidence that all religious traditions have utilized celebration."

The traditional family today is under attack all over the world. For parents, especially new mothers and fathers, who will welcome any reminder and guide about their true vocation, the 7th World Meeting of Families provides that perfect spiritual encouragement and resource. Let's pray for the success of this world encounter for the promotion and support of the family.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Legal opinion: Bill 13 can be challenged on constitutional grounds

St. Thomas More
During the last day of hearings, May 22, constitutional lawyer, Albertos Polizogopoulos challenged the legality of Bill 13 in his presentation to the Standing Committee that has the responsibly to hear from the public. The submission was made on behalf of The Coalition of Parental Rights in Education. If you wish, you may read the entire legal-opinion and use the information when contacting your MPP, your parish priest and other lay or religious leaders.

According to Mr. Polizogopoulos, here are the six areas on which the proposed Bill 13 can be challenged on constitutional grounds:

1. The Bill gives preferential treatment to one group, namely the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, transsexual, two-spirited, intersexed, queer and questioning, LGBTTIQ students;

2. The legislation uses the term “homophobia”, a word that has no legal definition and is too general and thus applying it in the law becomes subjective and problematic;

3. The term “bullying” is not clearly defined and as a result too many behaviors fit the proposed wording;

4. Bill 13 legislates an “Equity” policy in all schools and thus will have the force of law to make Catholic schools violate their own teaching;

5. Bill 13 forces any group renting or using schools to adhere to the “provincial code of conduct”. This clause could undo Section 15 of the Charter as it applies to religious freedom and freedom of assembly;

6. The legislation forces all schools to establish gay/straight alliances. This could be a clear violation of denominational rights under the Section 93(1) of the Constitution, as well as Section 257 of the Education Act and possibly section 29 of the Charter.

This submission makes it clear that we have very valid reasons to continue to put pressure on our MPPs and Premier Dalton McGuinty because Bill 13 has many moral, health and legal problems. We must also ask some other questions. Why hasn't the Archdiocese of Toronto taken a public stand in support of the faithful and in defence of the faith on this proposed legislation? Do the parish priests know what's going on in our schools? Have parishes been notified by the Archdiocese? Have school boards been instructed to adopt the Respecting Difference document. Bill 13 is probably the biggest sexual experiment on all children of this province and Catholic leadership has for the most part been silent. We should not have to go down the same secular road we blindly followed in Canada when Pope Paul VI published that prophetic encyclical, Humanae Vitae. Isn't the proposed Bill 13 not part of the moral fall out?

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Everyday for Life Canada's submission against Bill 13

Today May 22, 2012, is the last day of hearings on Bill 13. Everyday for Life Canada wishes to share with its readers the submission sent to the Standing Committee. You may have heard the recent news from the United States that 43 Catholic organizations have launched twelve law suits against the Obama administration's proposed new health care policy. The institutions have taken this drastic step because the new policy would require them to buy for their employees such services as contraceptives, abortifacient drugs and sterilizations. As a result, fighting Bill 13 has become a larger spiritual battle. It's a war against religious freedom and parental rights. This is a movement by the Ontario and American governments to defy Catholic teaching and propose new unjust legislation that could make practicing the faith illegal. This is why the faithful must be informed and be prepared to defend what they believe. Here's the entire submission:

To: Standing Committee Hearings on Bill 13
Re: Bill 13: Attacks Freedom of Conscience and Religion
We are thankful to God that we live in a nation where a written or spoken submission like this is possible. Many Christians and people of other faiths in the past and even today have paid and are paying a high price, including their lives, for such freedom.
As a former teacher with 33 years of experience in different schools, with many students, gifted, average and even in the care of the Children’s Aid, I say that all forms of bullying should not be tolerated. We all want safe and welcoming schools where all students can learn and grow to be good, responsible adults. But today you would think, if you listen to school boards and our government, that the bullying based on sexual orientation is the number one problem. But the evidence shows that this is not the case. Even the Toronto Catholic District School Board released information during one of their public consultation meetings on the “equity and inclusive” policy that they were not aware of an increase in their schools of this kind of violence. The manufactured crisis-agenda, instead, is one of political correctness and an attack on religious freedom.
Anti-bullying legislation is something we all want. But Ontario already has it in Bill 157, passed in 2010. Yes, we all want to protect the most vulnerable students in our schools and our society. Sadly, Bill 13 is not about this. In simple language, it will force parents and children to accept and to respect in law numerous social constructed sexual orientations as normal. We should not be experimenting with children’s sexuality and their lives. This is nothing short of psychological and moral abuse launched on children.
Bill 13 will turn sexual orientation and gender into legal terms. Bill 13 will make it legal for students to run gay/straight clubs. This has nothing to do with anti-bullying strategies. Who will be in charge and be invited to speak at those school gay/straight alliances? Gay activists, who want to introduce and to convince our children to accept the gay lifestyle and even experiment with it, will have the law on their side to do so. If you don’t believe this, just look at the fact that the premier of Ontario has consulted with organizations such as, EGALE Canada, Equality for Gays and Lesbians Everywhere, and people like Dan Savage, a staunch gay activist and anti-Christian, to draft the legislation.
Bill 13 will change the Education Act to include “gender based violence and incidents based on homophobia”. These words, unlike one’s sex as male and female and determined by biology, are fluid and so who will define them, since they are based on feelings and psychology? Who is going to define and prove what constitutes gender-based violence when there are so many made-up sexual orientations?
Bill 13 proclaims the 3rd week in November “Bullying Awareness and Prevention Week”. This will become a legal celebration to get schools to officially recognize and promote, “activities and organizations that promote the awareness and understanding of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.” This is not education, but the social manufacturing of consent. What if your son/daughter doesn’t want to take part in these pro-homosexual activities? Will they be expelled for rejecting the event? Bill 13 has a provision to possibly expel any student who engages in bullying based on sexual orientation. This is the most severe punishment any student can be given. Just the possibility of this draconian consequence will silence freedom of speech and indeed of thought, out of fear and under the guise of education.
In addition to the legal and moral issues raised by passing this legislation, there is also the heath problems associated with legislation that promotes and normalizes same-sex relations. We would like now to refer to a submission sent to the World Synod of Anglican Bishops, held in the UK in 2008. A source cited in that document is from a brief presented to the House of Commons of Commons, Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, on April 2000, by Dr. W. Andre Lafrance. The information was sent during the hearings to decide whether Canada should legalize same-sex marriage. Dr. Lafrance poses this question: “Would the approval of homosexual practices and same-sex marriage have any harmful consequences to society?” His answer is, “Yes”.
The brief goes on to explain why: “Such an endorsement would encourage the acceptance of homosexual practices as safe by the heterosexual society, especially by teenagers and young homosexual couples who might experiment with such initiatives. However, homosexual sex practices tend to suppress the immune system even if practiced by HIV negative heterosexual couples. … Suppression of the immune system … leads to an increased risk of certain cancers and infections including so called opportunistic infections, which do not cause, in individuals with normal functioning immune systems. … Suppression of the immune system also increases the risk of developing and eventually dying from AIDS.”
As a result of the medical information provided, Archbishop Rowan Williams, head of the Anglican Church, wanted at that time to approve homosexuality instead decided to endorse a moratorium on same-sex marriages. And then the brief warns of the added financial cost: “It is estimated that in Canada, treatment of an AIDS patient presently costs the healthcare system approximately $100,000 per year.” Now that was over ten years ago. The current cost is about $26,000, but this is money that could be spent on prevention.
What is a school or a government going to tell the parents of a student who may experiment with homosexuality because they joined the school’s gay/straight alliance and ends up being infected with HIV/AIDS? Think of the negative consequences of this real outcome. There will be human suffering and possible law suits against school boards and the government for endorsing the behavior that increases the likelihood of contracting infectious diseases, as well as psychological and addiction problems. This is not what the educational system in this province should be legalizing and promoting through legislation. The rationale in Bill 13 logically leads to support all students; then, are we far from having a school smoking or an alcohol or a marijuana club? If Bill 13 passes without changes, some could consider this very submission hate speech.
We should be teaching our students to love God and to see each person as created in the image of God, knowing that we are all brothers and sisters and our duty is to respect and care for everyone without distinction. This is the ethic that’s missing in Bill 13. We should not be forcing children to accept as normal the indoctrination of dozens of sexual orientations as part of their education. This is sexual propaganda. Schools should have anti-bullying clubs. So we should say yes to ABC clubs, Anti-Bullying Clubs in all schools.
In terms of character education of children, Bill 13 undermines, disregards and challenges parental rights and responsibilities. If passed, it will be a bad law for legal, moral and health reasons. It violates freedom of conscience and religious liberty. The current committee holding hearings about Bill 13 should listen to the people and amend the sections dealing with sexual orientations, forcing schools to have gay/straight alliances and expelling students for bullying. The government can do even better by scraping the proposed law altogether and support Bill 14.
Thank you. (This is the end of the submission.)
Now I hope you watch the video below as the president, Fr. Terence Henry, of the Franciscan University in Steubenville explains the severity of the situation in America as Catholics there are being threatened by a proposed law to reject their religion on the issues of abortion, contraceptives and sterilizations. Bill 13 does the same thing in the province of Ontario by trying to put the law at war with religious freedom. Catholics must peacefully use every means at their disposal to fight back. Pray and do what you can.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Victoria Day: Let's remember St. Christopher Magallanes

St. Christopher Magallanes and  Companions
What do we celebrate on this long weekend of Victoria Day? Yes, the birthday of a Queen. The raising of the flag? A parade, fireworks display or just time for a holiday? Here's a suggestion: Let's remember St. Christopher Magallanes. Today the Church's liturgy provides for an optional memorial for this saint and his companions. It was during the period of 1915-1937 that in Mexico many Catholics were persecuted and killed for practicing their faith. The revolutionary regime did their best to destroy the influence of the Church. In fact, in 1934 president Lazaro Cardenas wished to establish a socialist educational system to replace what he referred to as the "fanaticism" of the Church. Does this not have some similarities to what is currently happening in Ontario's educational system?

In 2000, it was Blessed John Paul II who canonized twenty-two priests and two laymen all martyred during the Mexican revolution. Father Magallanes was executed with Fr. Augustin Caloca who wasn't afraid to say, "We have lived for God and in Him we die." As the many gods of secularism creep into our lives more and more everyday in this province and in Canada, it's wise to recall those individuals who stood for the truth and continue to guide us today. What follows is a brief reflection for the day written by Francois Mauriac one of the great Catholic writers of the twentieth century. It's published in the May edition of the Magnificat. Happy Victoria Day! But more so, happy St. Magallanes and his companions day! Here's the quote:

“As soon as they received the Spirit, they manifested God so strikingly that Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, and all the murderers of Christ who were still there must have believed that Christ had returned. When the tomb had been closed over his dead body, there was no doubt in their minds that the affair was finished, not only because he was dead but especially because the ordeal of his Passion had shown him to be impotent, and therefore both a liar and an impostor. But now, once again, his presence was felt throughout the city. His name spread from mouth to mouth… Only a small number believed in the visible Christ; but now that the Apostles spoke his name, all who heard them were 'cut to the heart' as the author of the Acts tells us.

"These thousands of baptised men were purchased by Christ’s blood; they immediately became diligent in hearing the Word, in taking part in breaking of bread and in prayers… There is no doubt, as Saint Paul’s texts prove, that they already believed what we believe today about the Bread of Life and the Chalice of the Lord; but the sense of Christ’s presence was given to them in a special way by the spirit of love: the power over matter and that power over flesh and over hearts which they received from the Lord identified with them.

"An unbelievable revulsion suddenly disconcerted the high priests, those foxes caught in their own trap. The infamy of the cross which crowned the life of Christ now clarifies it, it becomes the key to his destiny, the secret to the riddle which he had thrown in their faces during his mortal life.” (Francois Mauriac, The Son of Man, translated by Bernard Marchland, 1960)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A homily for our times

St. Joseph the Worker Parish
It was back on December 4, 1963, that Pope Paul VI issued the Decree on Social Communications titled, Inter MirificaHere's part of the prophetic message to both priests and the faithful: "All the children of the Church should join, without delay and with the greatest effort in a common work to make effective use of the media of social communication in various apostolic endeavors, as circumstances and conditions demand. They should anticipate harmful developments, especially in regions where more urgent efforts to advance morality and religion are needed."

The Holy Father goes on to say, "Pastors should hasten, therefore, to fulfill their duty in this respect, one which is intimately linked with their ordinary preaching responsibility. The laity, too, who have something to do with the use of these media, should endeavor to bear witness to Christ, first of all by carrying out their individual duties or office expertly and with an apostolic spirit, and, further, by being of direct help in the pastoral activity of the Church-to the best of their ability-through their technical, economic, cultural and artistic talents." (13)

The Pope was writing at a time when there was no Internet, Facebook, You Tube, Twitter, Smart phones, Twitter, the iPad and so much more. Pope Paul VI was mainly referring to radio, film, newspapers, magazines and television. However, the point to use media to evangelize is clear. Let's fast forward 42 years. In his Apostolic Letter, The Rapid Development, Pope John Paul II in 2005 encourages the faithful to utilize the media with these words, "Do not be afraid of new technologies! These rank “among the marvelous things” – inter mirifica  which God has placed at our disposal to discover, to use and to make known the truth, also the truth about our dignity and about our destiny as his children, heirs of his eternal Kingdom." Even Pope Benedict XVI has boldly invited priests and the laity to use the new media technologies like the Internet to spread the Gospel and to build the Common Good. As a result, we now have a Canadian site started by Colin Kerr, and it's dedicated to building a community of Catholic bloggers; it's called,  The Society of Canadian Catholic Bloggers.

St. Joseph the Worker Parish in Vaughan, Ontario has also taken these papal pastoral media messages to heart. Please watch the You Tube video as the pastor, Fr. Mario Salvadori introduces a young man Vlad who speaks to parishioners on the importance of using the social media to evangelize. The presentation/homily/talk does take thirty minutes, but the information and the inspiration you will get from it is well worth the time. Just imagine the fruits of this media project, especially with the youth of any parish, if this social media strategy were adopted by the Archdiocese of Toronto, or any diocese in the world, as a pastoral project for the up-coming Year of Faith or at any time. Everyday for Life Canada welcomes your views and comments. Here's the link to the video:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Ontario's Orthodox Christians add their no to Bill 13

On May 14, 2012, the Pan-Orthodox Association of Greater Hamilton and the Eastern Orthodox Clergy made a presentation before the Sanding Committee hearing on Bill 13. Father Geoffrey Korzg, Dean of Ontario for the Orthodox Church in America, and General Secretary of the Pan-Orthodox Association of Greater Hamilton made the presentation. With him were Father William Makarenko, former Chancellor of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of Canada; and President of the Pan-Orthodox Association of Greater Hamilton; Father John Koulouras of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto and President of the Eastern Orthodox Clergy Fellowship of Toronto; and Father Alexei Vassiouchkine, of Christ the Saviour Russian Orthodox Cathedral, in Toronto. 

The Orthodox Clergy Associations represents Eastern Orthodox churches from around the Golden Horseshoe, with about one quarter million faithful, almost all of which live in urban ridings. Orthodox Christian communities across Ontario draw their members from a wide variety of cultural and linguistic groups, from Greece to Russia, North and Central Africa, the Middle East, Ukraine, Romania, and the Far East, as well as a wide variety of other cultures. 

Fr. Korzg makes a very convincing, logical and moral argument against the passing of Bill13. Everyday for Life Canada, with permission, shares the entire speech with its readers. We hope you do read the whole talk to get a better understanding of why so many different religious and non-religious groups, as well as families, individuals and politicians believe that Bill 13 is misguided and would make for an unjust law. Here's the speech:

I believe the Members of the Committee would agree that it is widely accepted that bullying is a genuine problem for students in Ontario schools. In every study one can find, a majority of students – often a vast majority – report being victims of some type of bullying.

Yet the official data on the targets of bullying and violence paints a very different picture than the one we see in the preamble to Bill 13.

The preamble of the bill takes pains to outline each and every type of sexual self-identification that can be identified as a reason for being bullied. It does not elaborate in such a way, however, about particular racial or cultural groups, nor about particular faith groups who may suffer targeted bullying. The emphasis of the preamble to Bill 13 certainly seems to reflect a preoccupation with bullying based on sexual self-identity.

In contrast to the proposed bill, Statistics Canada in their 2011 Report on Hate Crimes, indicates that bullying against religious groups is more than twice as common as bullying against self-identified gays and lesbians.

Statisitcs Canada further reported that the largest increase was in attacks directed against people of traditional faiths, which increased 55 per cent over two years.

Racially-motivated bullying was reported to be even more frequent than all other types of attacks. In fact, in 2009, Statistics Canada reports that three Ontario cities – Ottawa,
Toronto, and Kitchener-Waterloo – accounted for most of the increase in incidents of such attacks across Canada.

We must ask, why then does Bill 13 make repeated, special mention of LGBT anti-bullying initiatives, when such incidents represent only a fraction of the reality of bullying in Ontario schools?

In our communities, one can already see the impact in schools of initiatives and attitudes which have taken their cue from the introduction of Bill 13.

For example:
- The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board anti-bullying resource documents denigrate the traditional Christian view of sexual morality as “homophobic”;

- In the same board, as part of the anti-bullying initiatives inspired by Bill 13, staff have already received talking points to counter parents who object based on their faith to LGBT-framed anti-bullying initiatives;

– The Toronto Catholic District School Board caved under pressure from its own staff to reject Roman Catholic teachings, and to adopt a number of anti-Catholic initiatives, in anticipation of the guidelines proposed under Bill 13.

Anyone who has walked through the halls of an Ontario secondary school over the last year has also seen the graphically pro-homosexualist posters being used in the name of combating bullying.

Yet it is just this kind of material – the kind that emphasizes again and again the sexualization of young people – which is our concern when it comes to the impact of Bill 13. We have already seen anti-bullying initiatives in local schools adopting strategies that have grown directly out of gay activism.

In schools from Niagara to Hamilton to Kitchener to Toronto, pink t-shirt days, “gay alliances”, and sticker and poster campaigns designating “gay friendly” classrooms are already underway, and Bill 13 enshrines them in law.

Where I live, we have even seen one local elementary school host a crossdressing day to oppose bullying against students who are confused about their gender. All these initiatives have the very clear side effect – perhaps intended - of putting a spotlight on those who do not  subscribe to their agenda, and to undermine the teachings from  home, church, mosque, synagogue or temple that might teach  something different about how we understand sexual identity.

By adding section 303.1 (d) – the establishment of Gay-Straight Alliance clubs (GSAs) – the proposed Bill 13 rejects the traditional approach to human sexuality, marriage, and modesty around sexual issues that is held by virtually every traditional culture around the world.

It suggests that the views of one culture - a tiny, urban, liberal, white, elite subgroup of North American culture - are somehow entitled to trump the views and faith of almost every other faith and culture that make up our province.

In these short buy critical sections, Bill 13 reflects a very
myopic, elitist, western-centered view of the world, and seems to be ideologically committed to imposing its own narrow doctrines on virtually every other cultural and religious group outside its own small circle.

Further, and perhaps most importantly, the establishment of
Gay-Straight Alliance clubs is an important part of the strategy to shift the centre of influence for struggling students away from the guidance of families and faith groups, to the counsel of same-age teen peers.

What does such a step say to the family with traditional faith and beliefs regarding sexual lifestyles? Let me be clear: GSAs are not designed to combat bullying. They are designed to provide emotional support and affirmation for a variety of sexual lifestyles that contradict the path of virtually every traditional faith, including Orthodox Christianity.

As clergy, we must regularly deal with spiritual and personal counseling. As parents, it is truly frightening to us to imagine that our tax-funded schools would provide a forum in which the teachings of traditional faiths are undermined, and faith-based efforts to counsel our young faithful are contradicted in a public school by staff or guest speakers.

Just a few months ago in a secondary school in Dundas, Ontario, a woman who identified herself as a lesbian rabbi was brought in by school staff as a featured speaker at a school-wide anti-bullying assembly. Her purpose was not simply to speak out against bullying.

in general, or even to speak against the bullying of self-identified gay students: her message was to attack the Old Testament – the scripture sacred to Christians and Jews – as an outdated, absurd document,  and to tell students not to accept the beliefs of anyone who would follow it.

Members of the committee: Bill 13 emboldens this kind of antireligious attack, and this is the reason that any anti-bullying bill anti-religious attack, and this is the reason that any anti-bullying bill passed by this Legislature must not include any emphasis on one group over another, lest these small references be used as a hammer against people of faith.

Our task as spiritual leaders is to guide our faithful into lives that fully reflect the millennia-old teachings of our faith. Why on earth would Members vote for a bill that would collide head-on with these efforts? Why would you undermine us?

As Orthodox Christians, most of our faithful come from places, which experienced anti-religious persecution, within living memory. I heard just the other day the story of a 94-year old Serbian Orthodox woman living in our community, who during the Second World War hid in a cave in a concentration camp in Yugoslavia, while fascist soldiers searched outside, waiting for their chance to force her to deny her Orthodox Christian faith –or die.

You see, her faith was a the problem for that government, just as it has been for Orthodox Christians living under the Ottoman Turks, or the Communists, or countless other regimes. As priests of the Orthodox Church, we beg Members: do not make our faith a target in Ontario’s public schools under Bill 13. Again, let me be clear: Orthodox Christians and others know how it feels to be targets. Any true and faithful Orthodox

Christian would be the person most willing to stand up to protect the physical and emotional safety of a self-identified gay student. This is simply Christian mercy - but it is not agreement. With the provisions of Bill 13 allowing our faith and the traditional faiths of other to be labeled “homophobic” and “bigoted”, Ontario schools would actually undermine the positive contribution to our school communities of people of traditional faith and values. How can this be a positive contribution to humanizing and civilizing our schools?

Most of the Orthodox Christian faithful in Ontario comes from immigrant families, many of whom do not speak English, and most of whom are unlikely to speak up about this issue. They are working families, who will not write letters, nor will they call their MPP or school trustee. 

But one thing they will do - almost invariably - is vote.
Please ask yourselves:

What will you say to families of traditional faith who discover their 14-year-old has been part of a GSA for months, without parental approval?

What will you say to constituents who are concerned that Bill 13 and related regulations offer no exclusion for families who do not want their kids involved in GSA clubs, or from related curriculum in class?

What will you say to a voter whose child has rejected their faith and community, because something they learned in a school club dramatically shifted their sense of faith and values – against their family?

What will you say to faith leaders who must provide a variety of contrary worldviews in their local high school Christian club – but who would never be otherwise invited to share their story in a public high school, because this bill labels them “homophobic”?

Should Bill 13 pass with the inclusion of these inequitable sections favoring LGBT activism, Members will also be faced with the question of how they will answer these concerns at the doors, when they are circulated through the ethnic and religious media in the months ahead.

Let me urge the Members: whatever bill you pass, please ensure it makes no distinction between the type of victim, or the type of club that would support them. You have a good model in Bill 14, and I pray you will take this opportunity to unite Ontario students, not to divide them.

It was Blessed John Paul II that called the Orthodox Christians, "the other half of the Church's lungs" and we are thankful and support their efforts in speaking out against Bill 13 so that together we can better breathe the truth.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

More Ontarians reject Bill 13

Markham Press Conference on Bill 13
The Alliance for Family Values, AVF, held a press conference today in Markham to release the findings of a survey on Bill 13. There were 150 people in attendance. The data was collected from the residents of Markham and the Greater Toronto Area community with 2,800 respondents. The report based on the findings was submitted to the Ontario government's Standing Committee on Social Policy as part of the presentation during the May 7th hearing on Bill 13. If the McGuinty government really wants to know what ordinary citizens think of Bill 13, he and his ministers should read and most of all act on this AVF report.

The results of the survey showed an overwhelming majority of respondents, 90%, do not support Bill 13. Further, the findings concluded the following:
1. Schools should not be educating four year-old children about sexual knowledge;
2. Schools should not be asking Grade 3 children to act out their own pride parade as a strategy to fight bullying;
3. Schools should not establish gay-straight alliances;
4. MPPs should consult with their constituents about the contents of Bill 13;
5. Bill 13 should be put to a referendum.

This is welcome news for all those opposing the radical changes in education through Bill 13. At the press conference, copies of the report were handed to those present and to reporters who were there covering the event for the media. Regrettably, as usual the mainstream media were absent. The major media players on this issue, with the exception of Sun TV, have been irresponsible in their coverage of both, the Equity and Inclusive Education policy and currently with Bill 13, by assuming that this legislation needs to pass and so public discussion and information are not necessary. This is hardly equitable and inclusive journalism.

The Alliance for Family Values state in the report that they support "the principle of anti-bullying. The AVF respects all people, and stands by the principle that all are equal and should be treated as such and therefore should not be bullied. With such a common ideal, parents, community organizations, non-religious groups and religious, have gathered together to form the AVF to help to have an effect on legislation that would treat all citizens as equal and protect everyone form being bullied." Yes, let's teach our children to respect and care for everyone and not single out any group because of numerous and fluid socially constructed sexual orientations. A good law should neither indoctrinate nor should it psychologically and morally abuse children.

Peter Chan, from the Chinese Canadian Political Action Committee of Ontario, introduced the significance of the press conference and welcomed everyone. There were a number of invited speakers from various organizations to talk about their concerns regarding Bill 13. These were the listed speakers on the agenda: David Kong, Chinese Catholic Task Force, Samuel Chan, Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International, Rev. Jimmy Li, Toronto Chinese Evangelical Ministerial Fellowship, Kenny Tsui, Air Cadets, Charles McVety, Institute for Canadian Values, Ron Banerjee, Canadian Hindu Advocacy Group, Jim Kwan, Voice of Markham, Rev. Minho Song, Korean Churches Association, Allan Tam, School Trustee, Rev. Dominic Tse, Alliance for Family Values, Sam Hundal, Chairman of the Legal Clinic and Lyn Jackson, Network of Families' Concern. Each speaker made different and convincing arguments on why Bill 13 should not become Ontario law. But one thing they all strongly agreed with: the government is not listening to the will people and that Bill 13 as proposed is misguided legislation.

In conclusion, the AVF recommendations challenge the government to settle this issue with a referendum. If the McGuinty government truly believes in democracy, then they should listen to this advice and to the majority of the people of Ontario. We applaud and support the efforts of AVF and all those who spoke so eloquently in defence of religious freedom and parental rights at this press conference. Nobody can play the dangerous game of the politics of correctness with the lives of children and get away with it for too long.

Friday, May 11, 2012

March for Life 2012: a sign of hope for Canada

March for Life 2012

Canada's 15th annual March for Life 2012, held on May 10, had a record attendance of nearly 20,000 people. This encouraging number is surely a sign of hope for the future of Canada and for re-building the culture of life. What I found most inspiring was the fact that the crowd consisted of many young people who spoke, sang, cheered, walked and were there mostly to celebrate and defend the gift of life. Youth Co-ordinator Alissa Golob from Campaign Life Coalition introduced the significance if the rally and together with former Liberal MP Pat O'Brien emceed the event.

While the Prime Minister says that he will not re-open the abortion debate, those who marched for pro-life yesterday on Parliament Hill don't agree. I believe the day will soon come when we will as a nation realize that the protection of life from conception to natural death is the central issue of our times. How can a nation be great and good again when it will not defend those innocent and vulnerable future citizens in the womb?

Stella Ambler MP for the Conservatives addressed the crowd with these life-affirming words, "Thank you! For Marching for Life! For the babies whose lives were ended prematurely and for babies yet to be born! And, for their mothers! I am a mother.  Being my son’s and my daughter’s mom has been the most challenging, joy-giving, and, yes, occasionally frustrating, responsibility that I have ever taken on, bar none! And I’m thankful that my husband has been with me as we, together, try to give our children both roots and wings." She went on to say, "Today, like you, I am here to say that human life is precious – in fact, of infinite value. That human life begins at conception. I’m also here to say that, as with most Canadians, it does no Canadian credit that there is no law in Canada on abortion. Worse, there are those who say we should not even have a conversation. That is why it is my privilege, as a Member of Parliament, to support Motion 312, put forward by my friend and colleague, Stephen Woodworth. Stephen has started a conversation on when life begins and, you may have noticed, the sky is NOT falling! I hope you will join in this conversation and start conversations about Motion 312 with your friends, family, and loved ones."

There were other Tory MPs there such as Jeff Watson from Ontario, John Williamson from New Brunswick, Kevin Sorenson from Alberta, Brad Trost from Saskatchewan and Rod Bruinooge from Manitoba. A number of bishops were present as well, including Toronto Cardinal Thomas Collins and Bishop Nicola De Angelis of Peterborough. Bruce Clemenger as president of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada told those present, "Science and medicine are teaching us more about the distinct personhood of the child in the womb. You have heard it said that the debate over the protection of the unborn is over. I say look at this crowd." A number of MPs did express their support for Stephen Woodworth's private member's motion to re-open the abortion debate and the moral question of when does human life start.

At the end of the march, the crowd assembled again to listen to a number of speakers from the Silent No More Campaign. These personal stories reveal the horrible moral harm caused by abortion to the parents, our society and to our love of God who created all life. It was a wonderful experience to be together with others to pray, to walk and to be a witness for life. We travelled to the event with parishioners from St. Benedict Parish who have had a bus going there for a number of years. Why not for 2013 organize a bus for the march in your parish? You'll be helping to build a culture of life in Canada, one life at a time.

March for Life 2012