Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 1, 2008
Ethics course riles up Quebec bishops, parents
Dumping religious educations studies adds fuel to provincial election debate
BY MARY DURRAN
“We have the right to choose what is best for our own children.”
- Jacinthe Lavallee
The bishops have applauded the “recognition of others and the pursuit of the common good” implicit in the new course and have praised its efforts to promote “learning to live together in a pluralist society.”
But they also have criticized the course for offering no moral guidelines for children.
Bishop Martin Veillette of Trois-Rivieres, president of the Quebec bishops’ conference, described a “growing solidarity” as “thousands of people accept the accompaniment of others” in a journey of faith through the new parish-based program.
In an article in Le Devoir Oct. 20, Father Andre Tardif of Magog described the response of parents to the new parish religious education program: “To my enormous surprise, the response was extraordinary. I hope that the catechism that we learned is never taught again in schools.”
Late last year Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet reiterated his support for parents who want their children to receive religious instruction at school.
He asked the government “to respect the Quebec tradition of handing down religious teachings at school . . . and allow churches and recognized religious groups to teach confessional courses, conceived and paid for by them. And in the name of everyone’s religious liberty, state ethics and religious culture courses should be optional.”
The lack of a choice to opt out of the new course has become an issue for some parents.
“Parents used to have the right to withdraw their children from religious education,” said the coalition’s lawyer, Jean-Yves Cote. “But they are not allowed to withdraw their children from this course.”
Representatives of the coalition have said they are pleased with the position of Quebec Democratic Action and have said that this will be seen in the upcoming elections.
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