“…Upon your walls, O Jerusalem, I have set watchmen; all the day and all the night they shall never be silent…” [Isaiah 62:6]
For those of you who have prayed the Liturgy of the Hours / Breviary / Christian Prayer / Divine Office more than a few times, you have probably come across the above verse from the book of the prophet Isaiah, when praying on the feast of a saint who was a bishop or priest. An image that the New Testament presents of the Church is that it *is* the New Jerusalem.
We have heard that the Church is the bride of Christ, and in the book of Revelation:
“And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband;” [Revelation 21:2]
It seems then, that the Church, in selecting the verse from Isaiah for the feasts of saints who were bishops or priests, is suggesting that these saints are the watchmen promised to Jerusalem, and by extension, the new Jerusalem, through the prophet Isaiah.
Recently in Canadian news, the issue of whether or not Gay-Straight Alliance clubs can form in Catholic Schools has taken up quite a few headlines. As an educated Catholic, I always want to have some kind of explanation ready for people, as St. Peter exhorts us: “Always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence;” [1 Peter 3:15]. And with my lapsed Catholic friends and non-Catholic friends angrily clamoring in their facebook statuses and through other avenues of communication with criticisms of this “mean” Church of ours, I was feeling a little at a loss as to how to answer them. So I thought it was my job to do some research and get a summary for other concerned Catholics. And boy was it all confusing. And I doubted that it would be possible to come up with a good summary of the issues in time for this post.
However, our God and saviour Jesus Christ promised the Holy Spirit to the Church to lead it into all truth. We just heard in the Gospel on Trinity Sunday
“…When they all saw him, they worshipped, but they doubted.”
Sounds familiar… and what was Our Lord’s response to their doubts?
“…Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” [Matthew 28:16-20]
And after Mass, the priest announced that in the bulletin of there is this fine summary of what the Canadian Bishops have been saying, which I’ll just leave for you here to read, and circulate amongst your families, friends, and perhaps even to share in person with your critics.
“Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free. With the Lord on my side I do not fear. What can man do to me?” [Psalm 118:5-6]
Summary of Catholic Response to Bill 13 & 14
As you are aware, there has been an enormous amount of media attention in the last few weeks around the issue of how the Catholic Church and Catholic School Boards will respond to the proposed government legislation in Bill 13 and 14. The Catholic position is rarely presented with clarity; this summary is intended to provide that for you.
1) There are currently two anti-bullying bills before the provincial legislation, Bill 13 and Bill 14. Bill 13 is more specifically written to deal with bullying based on sexual orientation. Alleviating bullying and providing a safe environment for students are both commendable goals.
2) One child hurt, threatened, or made to feel unwanted in our schools is one too many and deserves our full attention.
3) When the government’s Accepting Schools Act legislation was first announced, the Ontario Catholic School Trustees’ Association joined the Minister of Education at Queen’s Park in support of provincial efforts to eliminate bullying in schools and provide effective supports for students who are bullied.
4) Since that time they have worked diligently with the Ministry, as well as both opposition parties, to find effective solutions to counter bullying and to protect all students in ways that respect denominational rights.
5) What is important to Catholic school boards is that the needs of all students are served in a loving environment that is rooted in the teachings of the Gospel.
6) Anti-bullying groups to support students who are gay already exist in some our Catholic schools – they are not waiting for legislation to assist these students. Ontario’s Catholic schools promote Respecting Difference Groups as student-led anti-bullying groups that can address the needs of students bullied because of their sexuality, race, appearance, creed, or any other reason
7) There is no question of the commitment of Catholic schools to provide a safe environment for all students, including gay students. We have a long tradition of providing pastoral support to students in ways that are in harmony with the Church’s teachings. This is evident in the 2003 publication by the Ontario Bishops titled, Pastoral Guidelines to Assist Students with Same-sex Orientation.
8) The Bishops and Trustees are opposed to accepting the name “Gay-Straight Alliance” in our Catholic schools because the term is strongly associated with political lobbying and with the promotion of a gay lifestyle, which does not conform to our Catholic teachings.
9) The Catholic Church recognizes and affirms the dignity of every human person. This value is at the heart of all that is done in our Catholic Schools, while remaining faithful to the breadth of Catholic tradition.