October 8, 2012

The pope's representative in Canada has warned Sept. 24 of threats to Catholic education in Canada and urged Canada's bishops to "remain aware of developments in our society that jeopardize religious freedom."

Archbishop Pedro Lopez Quintana, the apostolic nuncio to Canada, told the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual plenary "many Catholic institutions are in danger of losing their Catholic character."

The pope has spoken of an "educational emergency" worldwide in the face of rampant individualism that "reduces reality to something to be manipulated," Lopez Quintana said.

Using careful diplomatic language, he criticized Quebec's Ethics and Religious Culture program and Ontario's Bill 13, which would impose gay-straight alliances on Catholic schools.

Lopez Quintana described the new religious curriculum designed for Quebec schools as "obliging a syncretistic study based on world religions." He noted the province "does not give parents the right to opt out."

The Ontario government is basing its intervention into Catholic education on a flawed understanding of the human person which sees the person as solely determined "by desires and passions" and not "in the image and likeness of God," he said.

The program impedes the right of the Church to teach a correct understanding of the human person that is based on the truths of the faith, he said.

Lopez Quintana praised the CCCB permanent council's pastoral letter on religious freedom. He noted one of the freedoms "cherished by the Catholic Church is the establishment of Catholic schools."

The nuncio spoke of the importance of new evangelization in light of this month's synod on the New Evangelization in Rome.

"The Holy Father hopes to awaken in all the baptized the profound gift of faith and also the responsibility to evangelize," he said. That includes evangelizing in the workplace, in scientific endeavours and economic life "so they may be turned into places for proclaiming the Gospel."

"We are called to lead people who find themselves in the desert of unbelief to Christ the living spring," Lopez Quintana said.