TORONTO, November 13, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — A dozen Catholics braved sharp November winds outside the Toronto archdiocesan office Tuesday to pray publicly that Cardinal Thomas Collins reverse a school board vote they say brings gender ideology into Catholic schools in violation of Church teaching.
Organized by Campaign Life Coalition, Canada’s largest pro-life, pro-family national lobbying group, the “pray-in” came four days after the Toronto Catholic District Catholic School Board (TCDSB) voted eight to four last week after months of bitter debate to add the terms “gender identity, gender expression, family and marital status” to its code of conduct.
A TCDSB report appended to the agenda the night of the vote said the archdiocese had approved adding the terms, provided these were interpreted through a “Catholic lens.”
Campaign Life says the archdiocese betrayed Catholics by approving the terms and has launched a petition, signed by 530 to date, asking Collins to change course.
Proponents of the change argued that the TCDSB had to comply with the October 2018 provincial directive, PM128.
It mandated that boards align their codes of conduct with the provincial code and the Ontario Human Rights Code, both of which include the four terms as prohibited grounds for discrimination.
The archdiocese released its own statement this Monday conceding that it had accepted the addition of the terms.
“While the archdiocese recognizes that terms such as gender identity are included in the Code, we do not accept the view of the human person which underlies this terminology, since that view is not compatible with our faith,” it says. (See full statement here.)
Moreover, the “revised TCDSB Code of Conduct” includes provisions “to ensure that it is interpreted according to Catholic faith,” and that doing so “is exercising a right that is referenced in the Ontario Human Rights Code itself,” the statement notes.
Campaign Life youth coordinator Josie Luetke says that “if the archdiocese does not accept the view of the human person which underlies the terminology, then it should not have accepted the terminology.”
“If we accept terms which convey a falsehood, we become culpable in the propagation of this falsehood,” she said. “If you don’t want to convey a false concept of the human person, don’t adopt the language literally invented to convey a false concept of the human person.”
“Gender identity” and “gender expression” are “inherently misleading terms which cannot be redeemed,” Luetke said.
Greg Benoit, who attended the pray-in, echoed this, pointing out that individuals genuinely afflicted with gender dysphoria need treatment.
“I believe there is a huge deception going on where people have the intent of respecting those who have this disorder, but they’re not recognizing it as a disorder,” said Benoit, whose children graduated from TCDSB schools.
Benoit was “terribly surprised” to hear that the archdiocese had approved the terms.
“I see where they’re coming from as far as respect for all humans. But it’s gone beyond that,” he said. “The LGBTQ community gets a foot in the door and they have an agenda” to “get everybody totally accepting that lifestyle is normal.”
Moreover, “we’ve seen a spike in the rate of people who are declaring themselves as transgender, especially young people,” Benoit said.
“I think it’s sad. People are being seduced into this unholy lifestyle.”
Another participant at the prayer rally said he finds the idea of transgenderism “kind of sickening.”
“I don’t believe in people being in between, or going from one to the other,” Brian Shaughnessy told LifeSiteNews. “And I especially don’t like the people trying to change kids as young as they are.”
Gender ideology is much more sinister than most people realize, said Clinton Somerton of Campaign Life.
“Robert Cardinal Sarah says in his book The Day is Far Spent that gender ideology is a ‘Luciferian refusal to receive a sexual nature from God’ and that trans-humanism is the ultimate avatar of this movement,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“I think that’s a prophetic word from Cardinal Sarah, because truly, that’s what it’s all about,” added Somerton.
“When we reject our own nature as humans, as males and females made in the image and likeness of God, the very essence of human self-awareness, we become an artificial life form, and Satan can use that to mould us into a transhuman race,” he said.
“Truly, I believe gender ideology is the forerunner of transhumanism.”
The intention of the gathering was to pray “that the Cardinal will change his mind and make a statement publicly that will retract any notion that the Catholic Church accepts transgender ideology,” said Campaign Life president Jeff Gunnarson, who held a sign that read: “Cardinal Collins: Be not afraid.”
“We would like to see it be stricken from the code of conduct of the Catholic school board,” he told LifeSiteNews.
“The Catholic lens idea doesn’t work,” Gunnarson added.
“Many of us here today have children in the school or have had children in the school system, and there is no Catholic lens. It’s a myth, even a lie perpetrated by many.”
Collins may be “poorly advised on this situation,” observed Gunnarson. “Perhaps he doesn’t understand that kids are getting erroneous teaching…they’re not being properly catechized.”
As for a face-to-face meeting with the cardinal, Campaign Life has “asked in the past for communication with him on such matters, but we don’t normally get a response,” he said.