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Catholic Culture Dedication

Chastity, seen as a threat

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 27, 2012

Do you see what’s wrong with this lede from a news story in the Toronto Sun?

Catholic school students deserve protection from bullying based on sexual orientation, but the publicly-funded education system will continue to teach children that chastity, marriage and procreation are the way to go.

Did you see it? The word “but” doesn’t belong in that sentence. There’s no contradiction, no conflict, not even tension between the teaching of chastity and the condemnation of bullying. The Toronto Catholic schools are encouraging students to pursue virtue and avoid vice.

Notice? That’s “and” avoid vice—not “but” avoid vice.

Imagine that a newspaper reported that schools were committed to protecting their students from bullying “but” were also cautioning against drunk driving, In that case the “but” would stand out as unwarranted. But after years of pressure from gay-rights activists, the mainstream media are now leaning heavily toward the assumption that any defense of chastity is virtually an act of violence against homosexuals. The Toronto Sun story, with that misplaced word in the opening sentence, conveys the impression that by condemning bullying but pursuing chastity, the Catholic schools have somehow adopted a compromise. They aren’t going to protect bullies, but they are going to promote chastity. There’s a subtle implication there that chastity is a threat—not quite as severe a threat as bullying, but a threat nonetheless.

A threat to whom? To the people who are promoting the anti-bullying campaign, presumably. If they had their way, the Toronto Catholic schools wouldn't teach chastity. That's why the solution adopted by those schools is a compromise. The schools may condemn bullying, but they aren't giving the crusaders what they really want.

That little misplaced “but” tells us quite a bit about the state of the argument.


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: demark8616 - Mar. 09, 2012 1:36 AM ET USA

    Ouch John! I'd rather not see the RC Church as bullies! Perhaps look at it, purely from a theological point, that they are bound to defend the Truth, especially in the upholding and teaching of Faith and Morals (issues where the Pope is infallible). It is awful that bullying and persecution of individuals goes on by other individuals - please don't see the Church itself as a huge instrument that clubs others!?*

  • Posted by: demark8616 - Mar. 09, 2012 1:31 AM ET USA

    Sorry Phil, does seem their is some 'but' attached to your conclusion of this article. Could be that this is just poor grammar which your 'eagle eye' has discerned and read more into it than is there? The following extract appears to prove their Catholic commitment... “If a person acts in a way that goes against this meaning it is also viewed as an act against the virtue of chastity. This assessment is the same for all people, whether heterosexual or those with same-sex attraction.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jan. 28, 2012 7:17 PM ET USA

    Close, Phil, but not quite. What "they" mean (God help us!) is that although the "bullying" of "homosexuals (or effeminate)" will be prevented on an "individdual" basis. that "institutionally (the doctrine of our Church)will STILL be taught that it is "wrong (chastity)" to engage in the act...; "marriage (the Church does not and WILL NOT recognize "homosexual" marriage);" and finally "procreation (homosexuals CANNOT and never will naturally..)" are the way to go. The RC Church itself is a bully!