There has been quite a stir over the comments made by Ontario's Minister of Education. Laurel Broten, whom we are told is a practicing Catholic, told reporters that under Ontario's new anti-bullying law, Bill 13, "The Accepting Schools Act," Catholic schools would no longer be allowed to teach that abortion is wrong. We get an insight into Mrs. Broten's convoluted reasoning with this:
We do not allow and we're very clear with the passage of Bill 13 that Catholic teachings cannot be taught in our schools that violates human rights and which brings a lack of acceptance to participation in schools.
We should note, although we must set it aside, that such reasoning could be used to stop literally any speech that authorities find problematic. All of us must be on the alert for such warm, fuzzy totalitarianism, and cannot give it the slightest quarter. But for our purposes today, we must note a further claim that Mrs. Broten makes:
Bill 13 has in it a clear indication of ensuring that our schools are safe, accepting places for all our students. That includes of LGBTQ students. That includes young girls in our school. Bill 13 is about tackling misogyny, taking away a woman's right to choose could arguably be one of the most misogynistic actions that one could take.
If Mrs. Broten's interpretation of Bill 13 is allowed to stand, this basically represents the end of even the possibility of authentic Catholic education and evangelization in Canada. There has been a strong response from Canada and the U.S. to this threat by the Canadian government, which is good, but today we have an additional reason to reflect on what may be required of those who love Our Lord and His Church so much that they will not be silenced.
As Providence would have it, today the Church celebrates the lives and heroic witness of eight martyrs (and the years they were martyred) who pioneered the proclamation of the Gospel in Canada: Isaac Jogues (1646), Jean de Lalande (1646), Jean de Brebeuf (1649), Antoine Daniel (1648), Gabriel Lalemant (1649), Charles Garnier (1649), Rene Goupil (1642) and Noel Chabanel (1649). These saints were canonized in 1930 by Pope Pius XI, and are the first North American martyrs officially recognized by the Catholic Church. Along with Franciscan and Dominican missionaries whose missionary outreach covered southwestern territories of the U.S. and South America, these Jesuit missionaries labored to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ within southern Ontario and upstate New York. They faced some of the harshest of environments as they helped establish Catholicism in the new territory.
Their love of the Gospel and zeal for souls led them to minister among the Native American peoples: the Huron, Mohawk, Petun and Iroquois Indians. The hardships they faced were often rewarded as the Faith was embraced. The cost for such heroic, sacrificial love was for these particular eight was persecution, torture, enslavement and ultimately death. Yet, it is upon their blood, the blood of the martyrs, that many in the New World came to know the message of salvation.
Brothers and sisters, we are being shown again what may be asked even of us as our governments grow more radically secular and more overt in their disdain for Christianity. The long-hence redefinition of "human rights" is now being used as a weapon against those whose faith gave meaning to the very concept of rights as being gifts of the Creator, and thus inalienable and undeniable.
So when we see our God- (not government-) given freedom of religion being reduced to "freedom of worship," by such powerful figures as our own President and Secretary of State, we should know what they mean. Under this view, we may -- may -- be allowed to celebrate Holy Mass and various traditions behind closed doors, but behind these doors our faith must stay. And with Mrs. Broten's indefensible argument, we also see that they have no intention of letting Catholics teach Catholic morality in our own schools.
In Canada, and around the world, it is a time for saints. We may not yet have to undergo the torture and murder suffered by St. Isaac Jogues and his Jesuit missionary brothers, but there is no sign that the increasing government oppression of our rights to be as Catholic as we can be will abate any time soon.
If we can't stand strong during these troubling but not yet life threatening trials, how can we stand with Christ when the great trial comes? The Innovators now in power will not be assuaged by weakness and compliance - they only grow bolder.
The witness of the North American martyrs serves as a constant reminder of the courage required to stand with Christ. With fervor and patience they engaged the culture of the day and exposed it to the light of the Gospel. To permit unjust laws to stand without challenge allows them to become further cemented into the mindset of the people. This diminishes us as a society.
Saint Isaac Jogues and companions, pray for us!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International