Report Card: Ontario Schools Must Exempt Students from Religion Class; New Catholic Scientists Association

Ontario Catholic schools can no longer require theology

Ontario’s Catholic high schools may not require students to take religious studies courses or take part in religious ceremonies, according to a settlement reached in response to a human rights tribunal complaint in which a former high school student sought “the right to be free from creed-based pressure” while still attending a Catholic school.

In September 2014, St Theresa’s Catholic High School student Claudia Sorgini applied to the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic School Board for an exemption from religious programs or courses. Her application was eventually denied, and she said that she and her family were subjected to harassment by the school and the school board because of their request.

In January 2016, Sorgini filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, asserting that her right to be free from discrimination on the ground of creed was violated by her high school and school board. On top of that, she also alleged that the Ontario Catholic School Trustees Association was complicit in her mistreatment, because it had encouraged school boards across Ontario to create barriers to students asking for an exemption from religious courses.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association predictably sided with her.

On May 31 of this year, the parties reached a settlement which assures that all students at publicly-funded high schools, including Catholic high schools, have the right to be exempt from religious courses or programs. While this is a local case, there is hope in some secular circles that this will now become the norm for all Catholic schools throughout Canada.

Read more about the decision at The Globe and Mail.

Society of Catholic Scientists embraces faith and reason

The Society of Catholic Scientists, created last year, already boasts almost 400 members, 80 percent of whom hold a doctorate in the natural sciences. It stands as out as a strong counter-cultural argument against the contention of the New Atheists that religion is incompatible with science.

Even more impressively, membership in such a Catholic organization which was inspired by Pope Saint John Paul II is being taken seriously in the highly competitive academic world of natural science. In fact, at the SCS’s recent inaugural conference, scholars from Harvard, Oxford, MIT, Penn and Brown delivered addresses.

“The Bible teaches that God impressed his intelligibility onto the world through creation by the Word,” reports First Things. “When that conviction weakens, faith in reason begins to crumble and the result is the intellectual playpen known as post-modernism. In renewing the covenant between faith and reason, the Society of Catholic Scientists serves the good of both—and of our culture.”

Sacred Heart U. health director: Pregnancy not ‘about a baby’

In the third piece in a series titled “Choice on a Catholic Campus” by the Fairfield Citizen, discussing sexual health, reproductive rights and religion at Fairfield University and Sacred Heart University, there is an interesting quote concerning crisis pregnancies of students:

“We support Sacred Heart’s mission. It’s Catholic in tradition,” said Anne Mavor, Sacred Heart University’s Health & Wellness Center director and an adult nurse practitioner. “We provide education — it’s the best tool that we can give them.”…

Sacred Heart does not delve into the topic of abortion with students; the university chooses to refer pregnant students to counseling and an OB-GYN. In the meantime, staff would talk with the student about staying healthy until they can seek medical and counseling care.

“We don’t discuss specifics,” Mavor said. “The decision doesn’t need to be about a baby yet. The decision is about the pregnancy and staying healthy and what they need to do to stay healthy until they can see a provider to go over all their options.” [emphasis added]

It doesn’t need to be about a baby yet? How does that fit in with “Catholic in tradition?”

Florida governor signs school choice law at Catholic school 

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday signed into law a massive education bill at an Orlando Catholic school that serves children with special needs, in order to highlight the bill’s $30 million expansion of private school scholarships for students with disabilities.

The bill, according to Scott, “paves the way for every Florida student to receive a world-class education that every student deserves.” He added that he was especially proud to expand the scholarship program, to provide education access and resources to students with unique abilities.

Matt Wiseman, executive director of the Pinellas Autism Project, said “expansion of the Gardiner scholarships is a good thing for families because it gives them a choice. When it comes to people with autism, everyone is different. Any time you can get more choices, it’s great.”

Catholic colleges trade away their faith for esteem from secular counterparts

Deacon James Toner writes in Crisis Magazine that with few exceptions, Catholic colleges are seizing upon “the best practices” of their secular collegiate counterparts and essentially erasing differences between a Catholic and secular education.

Deacon Toner points to the colleges recommended in The Newman Guide, published by the Cardinal Newman Society, as the Catholic colleges that buck the national trend of honoring pro-abortion politicians, professors undermining the faith of students, and a hook-up dorm culture.

“Instead of teaching the more excellent way,” Toner writes, “secularized Catholic colleges are gluttonously eager for the esteem of the academic world.”

Fr. Matthew Schneider: Catholics getting short end of the stick from academia

In the world of today’s academia, while Catholic schools capitulate to the whims and fads of secularism, secular schools often go the other way and outright discriminate against outbreaks of Catholicism or even a just a break from the relentless parade of liberalism on campus.

Cases in point are the fact that Catholic colleges are honoring pro-abortion politicians, facing fines for not wanting to provide abortifacients to employees, and defending the right to hire active homosexuals, all while Paul Griffiths, the Warren Professor of Catholic Thought at Duke Divinity School, was forced to resign for simply questioning liberal orthodoxy.

“Classical liberalism is open to various opinions and will be perfectly fine with a professor who taught Catholic thought and believes what the Catholic Church teaches,” writes Fr. Matthew Schneider in a piece titled “A Catholic Often Gets the Short End of the Stick on Both Sides of Academia.”

If you want to understand your Catholic school, check out daily calendars

You want to know what a Catholic school is really about? Check the daily calendars. That’s what Terry Mattingly has learned from Professor Anthony Esolen, who recently left Providence College and is now at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, a Newman Guide endorsed institution.

The calendars on the websites of Catholic colleges present the truth about what’s actually taking place on campus. Esolen says, “You aren’t just looking to see what kinds of things they’re doing, you’re looking for what is missing.”

“What you’re trying to find out,” Esolen explained, “is whether campus leaders are making serious attempts to build some wholesome community life. You’re looking for chances for young men and women to get together in settings that tend to reinforce what a Catholic college is all about. … Otherwise, the weekend is just the weekend and we know what that means.”

“Like it or not, parents have to learn whether a school is or is not on board with the whole Sexual Revolution,” he said. If a school “has capitulated on that front,” then traditional Catholic parents “have to run away and not look back.”

Villanova prof: The intellectual life is ‘intrinsically conservative’

Dr. James Matthew Wilson, associate professor of religion and literature in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University, argues in Catholic World Report that the intellectual life is intrinsically conservative.

“Show me someone who thinks intellectual freedom is attained through leaving the past in the past, and I’ll show you someone with a stunted and unoriginal mind. Show me someone steeped in the stories, the theology, and the philosophy of a long tradition, and I’ll show you someone dwelling in the presence of a beauty ever new,” he said in an interview about his new book, The Vision of the Soul: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Western Tradition.

All-female Catholic college to enroll men in 2018

The board of trustees at the University of St. Joseph in West Hartford, Conn., voted unanimously to allow men to enroll for the first time in its 85-year history in the fall of 2018.

President Rhona Free said that the university is in a position of “financial strength,” but opening up the admission process to all students will create a more vibrant campus life. The Catholic college currently has 135 first-year students and aims to have 150 this fall.

Catholic college president encourages liberal arts education ‘grounded in Catholic identity’

David Armstrong, president of Thomas More College in Kentucky, writes that “no better educational opportunity exists for today’s student than a liberal arts curriculum grounded in Catholic identity, dedicated to ethical values, and focused on career success.”

“By encouraging them to value the transcendent meaning in their education, engage the resources and people necessary to achieve academic success, and thrive by serving others, we aim for students to earn a return on their investment that we call C3 — an experience that forms their character, readies them for a career, and integrates them into a community,” he writes.

For a solid Catholic curriculum and campus life, look especially to the colleges recommended in The Newman Guide.

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