Catholic School in Quebec loses religious freedom case
(Vatican Radio) A Catholic private school is considering petitioning the Supreme Court
of Canada, after the Quebec Court of Appeal issued a decision obliging it to teach
a state-imposed Ethics and Religious Culture course (ERC) at odds with Catholic teaching.
The Quebec court issued its decision Dec. 4, overturning an earlier judgment of the
Superior Court, which supported the request Loyola High School put to the education
minister to teach the course objectives from a Catholic perspective. The Jesuit boys
school, located in Montreal, has been battling the provincial government on this issue
Marie Bourque, vice-president of the Catholic Parents Association
of Quebec, said the decision infringes on the rights of parents to choose an education
for their children in line with their faith and values and “to rely on the collaboration
of confessional schools” to this end. The Catholic Civil Rights League also issued
a comment in agreement.
Bourque described the ERC as a “totally superficial,
folkloric and materialistic” program, which “forbids any chronological or historical
teaching of religions.”
“It presents them as the fruit of the human mind,”
she explained. “It’s all relativistic; there’s no absolute truth at all. So, moral
and philosophical stands, which are atheistic, certainly sound more credible than
any religion at all in this context.”
Both the Catholic Church and the UN Declaration
of Human Rights state that parental rights in education are essential and must be
upheld, she underlined.
“The responsibility belongs to (parents) to teach
morals and religion. They can delegate it to whom they choose but it belongs absolutely
to them in the first place,” she said.
Loyola High School first took legal
action in 2008, when the education minister refused to grant equivalency to the school’s
Morals and World Religions course. The minister argued that Loyola’s course is taught
from a Catholic viewpoint, whereas the state course requires religions to be taught
from a secular and religiously neutral perspective.
Listen to the
interview by Laura Ieraci with Marie Bourque: