Alberta bishops warn of growing ‘calls to dismantle’ Catholic school system

A file photo of the Alberta flag. Dave Carels, Global News

Catholic bishops in Alberta and the Northwest Territories have issued a letter to church devotees to warn of what it says are growing calls to dismantle the Catholic school system.

In their annual November letter for Catholic Education Sunday, the bishops referenced the recent “heated public discourse” over the alternative sex education curriculum crafted by Catholic school superintendents.

“Much of the media frenzy we witnessed was based upon inaccurate reporting and a misrepresentation of our moral teaching,” the letter to churchgoers, signed by seven bishops, said.

READ MORE: If Catholic school sex-ed plan is as advertised, it won’t be taught: Notley

Watch below: In October 2017, the Council of Catholic School Superintendents clarified its stance after Premier Rachel Notley shot down its alternative sex-ed curriculum.

Click to play video: 'Battle over sex-ed in Alberta Catholic schools' Battle over sex-ed in Alberta Catholic schools
Battle over sex-ed in Alberta Catholic schools – Oct 25, 2017

“Calls to dismantle our publicly funded Catholic school system are growing ever louder, and we must not ignore them. It is important that everyone be ready to stand up for our faith and for our schools,” the letter said.

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“Please be prepared to speak out in support of our Catholic schools whenever you can.”

Catholic school superintendents submitted an alternative sex education curriculum that they want the province to approve for their schools.

They say the government’s teaching plan clashes with faith-based instruction by including, among other topics, homosexual relationships and gender identity different from one’s biological sex.

READ MORE: Alberta Catholic superintendents respond to criticism of proposed sex-ed curriculum

Documents filed with the province suggested the superintendents also take issue with how to teach the concept of sexual consent by a partner in marriage. They say it is only one of many factors to be considered along with morality, family and wellness.

On Monday, Education Minister David Eggen told reporters the province’s relationship with Catholic school boards is strong.

“I think there’s some sensitivity,” he said. “Certainly our relationship with Catholic school boards around the province has never been stronger.

“We built a record amount of schools over the last couple of years. We’re working closely with them in terms of curriculum.”

Eggen said there must be a separation between the Catholic school boards and the proposed alternative sexual education curriculum put forward by the superintendents.

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“We rejected that [the superintendents’ proposal], but certainly, we have to separate these two things and work on the relationship that we’ve always nurtured over the last couple of years.”

-With files from The Canadian Press

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