News / Edmonton

Alberta bishops call on Catholics to 'vigorously' defend their school system

“I think it’s fair to say some Catholics are feeling beat up,' says Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton spokesperson

Kevin Tuong

Alberta’s bishops have issued a rallying cry for Catholic education.

In a letter released on the weekend as part of Catholic Education Sunday, signed by the bishops of Alberta and the Northwest Territories, Catholics are asked to stand up for their faith and their schools amid growing calls for a single publicly-funded school system.

“We do not and we shall not apologize to anyone for our faith or for our schools,” the letter reads. “Everyone knows that the existence of our schools, fully permeated with our faith, is a constitutional right. Everyone should also know that this is a right we shall vigorously defend.”

The letter decries “inaccurate reporting and a misrepresentation of our moral teaching” in the media, after a parallel human sexuality curriculum being worked on by the Council of Catholic School Superintendents of Alberta went public last month.

Lorraine Turchanksy, spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Edmonton, said the bishops wrote the letter because many Catholics are not aware of the discussions on social media and in mainstream media.

A central point of recent controversy was around the teaching of consent in the superintendents’ proposed parallel curriculum. The superintendents wrote that consent is important, but other factors should go into the decision to have sex and it should only happen within a heterosexual marriage.

“I think it’s fair to say some Catholics are feeling beat up after hearing it reported that Catholics don’t believe that consent is necessary in a sexual relationship or even in a marriage,” Turchansky said. “This is just not true, and people were appalled and offended by that.”

Support Our Students Alberta is one of the advocacy groups that was critical of the proposed curriculum. Its executive director Carolyn Blasetti said the superintendents’ approach comes from an outdated, “old-fashioned vision” of sexual health education.

“For us, the issue if we’re talking about sexual health education, is we believe that the evidence-based, science-based sexual health education is the way that it should be taught across the province,” she said.

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