THE CATHOLIC SCHOOL IN AN AGE OF DISSENT
by Leonard A. Kennedy CSB
(Toronto, Canada, 2002, 112pp, Can$11.95 plus postage. Available from Life Ethics Information Centre, 104 Bond Street, 3rd Floor, Toronto, ON M5B 1X9 CANADA, tel + (416) 204-9601, fax + (416) 204-1027. Visa/Mastercard accepted)
It may be small consolation for Australian Catholics concerned at the state of the Faith in many of their schools to learn that, if anything, the situation is even worse in many parts of Canada. A recently published book - The Catholic School in an Age of Dissent - documents the widespread use of seriously defective RE and sex education programs and materials.
As such, these merely reflect the sorry state of Catholicism in much of Canada and the aggressive inroads of secularism and its political correctness into almost every corner of national life.
The author, Rev Dr Leonard Kennedy, has taught philosophy in several Canadian universities and colleges and been involved in Catholic teacher education for many years. He is the author of several books on educational issues and numerous journal articles and is currently a contributing editor with the excellent Canadian religious monthly, Catholic Insight.
Fr Kennedy has made extensive use of printed material and signed submissions sent to him to build up a picture of an educational system in a state of deep crisis. For example, one contributor provided a 116-page review of an episcopally-approved textbook series, Born of the Spirit, in which she concluded that "the majority of the truths of our faith ... are not included at all ... Those few which are presented are not taught in a complete or clear way and they become meaningless .... The instances of departure from the Church's teaching, by distortion or actual omission, are numerous and varied ... It is a tool which can only compromise and eventually destroy the faith of those who are exposed to it, both catechists and students."
A ten-year-old girl in Manitoba brought home a note from her Catholic school which said, "Dear Parents: The Grade Fives are celebrating their sexuality tomorrow at 2.45 in the church."
An AIDS program in Ontario Catholic schools was called "unadulterated homosexual propaganda" and "straight social-engineering" for introducing children to "language and behaviour which a child, in his or her wildest dreams, could not conjure up."
Fr Kennedy documents the takeover by theological dissent in key sectors, resulting in two Catholic Churches in Canada, one orthodox and one unorthodox.
As in Australia, the damage has probably been done and left for too long unaddressed. It may now be a case of building on whatever orthodox remnants are available, since a large majority of teachers and parents no longer practise the faith nor care much what masquerades as it in Catholic schools, as long as discipline, academic standards and other secular educational concerns are taken care of.
Fr Kennedy concludes: "Dissent in the schools began because it had already begun in the Church. It was carried into the schools by teachers" and "strengthened by some 'Catholic' courses offered to aspiring or hired teachers. It was not challenged by the curriculum, which sometimes abetted it ... By that time dissent had become a fait accompli. Whether it will continue its destructive work is not known, but 'woe to those by whom the young are scandalised' (Mt 18:5-6)."
Michael Gilchrist is the editor of 'AD2000'.