Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

In Ontario, Catholic schools are welcome; Catholic education is not

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Apr 08, 2014

Catholic schools are free to operate in Ontario, as long as they don’t provide religious education. That’s the message that seems to be coming from the Ontario Superior Court, which has ruled that Catholic high schools cannot require students to attend Mass.

In its immediate impact, the court’s decision seems to affect only non-Catholic students, who are already excused from religious-education classes. But look carefully at the reasoning of Justice Ted Matlow, who concludes that school rules compelling students to attend Mass and other religious functions “have as their central purpose the provision of religious experiences and education to the students who attend them.”

Well, yes; indeed they do. Yet Catholic schools have the same central purpose. If they’re not providing religious experiences and education to students, what are they doing? But if they are providing religious experiences and education to students, it seems only a matter of time before they will rule afoul of Ontario laws once again.

It’s becoming a familiar story: The Church might run the schools, but the state will dictate what happens in those schools. Or to put it differently, the state will allow Catholic schools to continue functioning, as long as they don’t function as Catholic schools.

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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  • Posted by: grateful1 - Jul. 20, 2017 1:00 PM ET USA

    He won't answer the question because if he did so truthfully he'd have to answer another he'd prefer to avoid--namely, why not leave & found your own church? Leaving the Catholic Church, of course, would dry up the money & the plaudits that flow from subverting Her from within. On the outside, he'd be just another cult leader of just another political interest group for an already over-represented minority. He's also probably betting that he has a fan in Pope Francis. Sadly, that's a good bet.

  • Posted by: VICTORIA01 - Jul. 17, 2017 2:09 AM ET USA

    I wonder if Fr Martin has read read: Surviving Gay...Barely by Joseph Sciambra. WARNING Sexually graphic Mr Sciambra left the Castro District of San Francisco approximately 16 years ago leaving his “career” as a porn star behind. The article is a no holds barred account of the physiological and emotional consequences of anal sex.

  • Posted by: Retired01 - Jul. 14, 2017 7:53 PM ET USA

    Is sodomy a sin? I have the feeling that just like Pope Francis is not likely to answer the dubia, Fr. Martin is not likely to answer this question. I propose another question: why is it that they are not likely to answer? Hopefully, they will prove me wrong and eventually provide an answer to either of the three questions.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jul. 14, 2017 1:52 PM ET USA

    Is this the current line in Jesuit formation and institutions? It has a familiar ring.

  • Posted by: iprayiam5731 - Jul. 13, 2017 4:44 PM ET USA

    We can see the problems with this dodging even without questioning Fr.'s belief. He is at best terrified of the power of doctrine clearly spoken and at worst actively thinks it does harm. Sowing confusion becomes away of "diffusing" this unbridled power that he is afraid cannot be wielded responsibly. It is the safety on a gun, that should never be used. I don't conclude that Fr. Martin wants to change, dissent from, or applaud disagreement with the Truth. He might just be too scared to use it.

  • Posted by: garedawg - Apr. 10, 2014 11:28 AM ET USA

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think that the Catholic schools in Canada get money from the state. Once you start slurping from the public trough, you can no longer complain.

  • Posted by: Defender - Apr. 08, 2014 7:05 PM ET USA

    Why are the schools "required to accept non-Catholic students?" Is this a Canadian thing? We have accepted a lot of foreign students who also knew they were required to attend Mass and Religion. We did have a few who became Catholic, too. Is this what Canada want's to prevent or is it just because the schools are Catholic?

  • Posted by: - Apr. 08, 2014 5:52 PM ET USA

    We are headed in the same direction here in America, and Obamacare is the Trojan Horse. I sadly predict that the bishops will relent rather than refuse to implement the legislation, and invite within its doors ever-expanding surveillance by the quite hostile State.