Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith also issued a statement in response to Alberta Education’s Guidelines document on January 21st. His response – with a similar message, but a more respectful tone – also highlights concerns with the guidelines through the lens of Catholic faith.
Archbishop Smith provides a clear explanation and firm position on how it is the “underlying principle” of the Alberta Education’s document “that is simply not congruent with Catholic teaching; that is, that “self-identification is the sole measure of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.” For those who want to learn more about this incongruence, I highly recommend reading his statement in its entirety.
Bishop Paul Terrio of St. Paul echoed similar concerns in a phone interview that was reported in an article by the St. Paul Journal a couple days ago. The following is an excerpt from that article:
Terrio said everyone agrees with the need to have safe and inclusive schools, adding, “In our humble opinion, we think Catholic schools are already doing that. The basic flaw of this document rests on its premise that “self-identification is the sole measure of an individual’s sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”
Terrio said he agreed that self-identification had to be taken into account, and no one should be ostracized because he or she has difficulty accepting his/her biological gender. However, his letter stated femininity and masculinity are not just exchangeable roles, but “gifts and callings from the creator.”
“Where I challenge this, they (the province) are anchoring their proposals to a gender-theory vision of sexuality which is in direct confrontation with any biblical religion, including Catholicism,” he said, adding this vision also conflicts with other religious groups’ views, including those of evangelicals and Muslims.
In Terrio’s Jan 17th written statement, he said, “We, the Alberta bishops, believe that this matter is of great importance and is worthy of our attention. The ACSTA (Alberta Catholic School Trustees’ Association) has proposed for Catholic schools a protocol that it has called the LIFE Framework. I believe that this document respects the spirit and intention of government legislation, while doing so in a way suited to Catholic education.”
Likewise, in a book entitled We Cannot Be Silent, here are some quotes on the topic to consider from the perspective of Christian writers:
“We dare not miss that God created sexual differentiation. The terms male and female are not cultural constructs. They are not social roles foisted upon mankind by the accreation of culture and tradition. Male and female designate the fundamental distinction that God has embedded in the very biology of the race.” (Denny Burk)
“The biblical worldview insists that our embodiment actually demonstrates God’s love for us, his gift to us, and part of his purpose and plan for our lives. To amputate and cosmetically reform the body in this sense is an act of defiance against the Creator’s purpose. Where one might claim that there is a disconnect between self-consciousness and embodiment, the Christian must tenderly and compassionately advise that it is the mental – that is, the self-consciousness and sense of personal identity – that must be conformed to the body rather than the body conformed to the individual’s mistaken self-perception. At this point, we need to note that every single one of us is afflicted by a mistaken self-perception. Our self-perception, whether on this issue or any other, must be corrected by Scripture. Furthermore, Scripture itself attests to the fact that our bodies are not accidents that happen to us, but part of God’s intention for us.” (R. Albert Mohler Jr)
According to an article yesterday in the Edmonton Journal, there is a meeting planned for early next month with Education Minister David Eggen and Catholic leaders in attendance, once Archbishop Richard Smith returns from an overseas trip. Eggen is reported as saying that “I think the spirit of collaboration and looking after children, especially our children who are most vulnerable, I think will steer the day.”
For those with a biblical worldview it will be especially significant to hear the outcome from the planned meeting and how faith-based school boards will be able to fulfill the Education Minister’s requirement for specific LGBTQ policies, while not compromising their foundational doctrine and still maintaining integrity to their personal faith.
*Updated Feb 17, 2016