always a challenge to write a first column, to introduce oneself to a new
audience. My brief is to cover pretty much anything I want, but to write about
Canada and Britain in particular. The reason is that I spent the first half of
my life in London, the second in Toronto. I married a Canadian. We met at a G.K.
Chesterton conference in 1986, where I delivered a startlingly boring lecture
entitled “Chesterton, Belloc, the Marconi Scandal, and Edwardian Anti-Semitism.”
Not a usual subject for future wife attraction, but even so this highly
intelligent, extraordinarily beautiful woman approached me at a cocktail party
at the end of the conference and exclaimed, “You’re amazing.” She was doubtless
this would never happen again, I married her. And I was right: it hasn’t
happened again, and as far as I can recall she hasn’t said it again either.
Canada, which is one of those geopolitical mysteries. Like Costa Rica’s
peacefulness or the beauty of Bruges. People just don’t usually know. Thirty
million inhabitants, incredibly wealthy, absurdly large, enormously successful,
culturally and artistically fertile, and often a predictor of what the USA will
become 10 years later. But because it’s a former British colony and on top of
the world’s only superpower it’s often forgotten, ignored. Frankly, it rather
likes it that way. Similarly with the Canadian Church. There are more than 13
million Catholics in Canada, 44 percent of the population. There are eight million
Protestants of various denominations, the largest claiming to be the United
Church, at around half-a-million members.
the most liberal of the churches and is hemorrhaging adherents. As are the
Anglicans and the Presbyterians. Unlike in the US, Evangelicals at around 11
percent are not a major force. Immigration has, of course, enormously increased
the Hindu, Sikh, and, in particular, Muslim communities.
is an extensive and publicly funded Catholic education system in the country, a
tiny but still permitted Catholic television station, and in the past two
generations it’s been unusual to have a prime minister who is not Catholic. Of
a sort. Liberals Pierre Trudeau, Paul Martin, Jean Chretien, and John Turner
and Conservatives Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark were all nominal Catholics, with
one or two of them claiming to attend Mass and perhaps even sometimes doing so.
They also governed a country that is unique in the western world in having no
abortion laws at allpublicly funded up to the ninth month, and all sorts of
restrictions to prevent protests outside abortion clinics. Canada was also the
fourth country to introduce full same-sex marriage and had led the world in
same-sex adoption and hate crime prosecutions of people who criticize the gay
community just a little too much.
good example of the paradox was the fight in Ontario, the country’s most
populous province, over what was supposed to be the government’s anti-bullying
policy in high schools. It soon became not a campaign against bullying, but one
to affirm homosexuality. A Liberal administration led by a manDalton McGuintywho
claimed to be a Roman Catholic, whose wife still teaches in the Catholic
system, and whose children attended it, decided that gay students were bullied
and that something had to be done. McGuinty is a malleable politician, and over
the years when I’ve interviewed him I’ve seen him change his mind on numerous
subjects. He has also refused to support or uphold Church teaching almost every
time it has been politically challenged. There’s no such thing as a Kennedy
Catholic; believe me, neither is there such a creature as a McGuinty one.
anti-bullying fetish is partly the work of gay extremist Dan Savage, who began
the “It Gets Better” campaign, and who has subsequently bullied opponents,
including teenagers, whenever he gets the chance. Irony aside, the whole idea
is based on nonsense. First, it’s not true that gay children are particularly
targeted at school and all credible surveys reveal that it’s obesity and body
image that are the major reasons for bullying, with sexuality hardly
registering. Second, it’s not true that Catholic schools preach homophobia or
that Catholic teachers would allow a gay child to be bullied. Third, being gay
has become fashionable rather than dangerous in modern schools. All of this,
however, was ignored as a “Catholic”-led government ruled that Catholic schools
would have to implement “Gay-Straight Alliances,” where gay students,
sympathetic teachers, and activists brought into the school would discuss
lifestyle, sexuality, and why there is nothing wrong with being an active
homosexual. Bullying, ran the argument, was a product of homophobia, and
homophobia was a product of, well, things like Catholicism.
Lord, where to start? The Church does not and cannot accept homosexual behavior.
It’s really pretty simple. As Catholics we believe that God made us with a
plan, based on order and not chaos, which has at its epicenter the procreation
of humanity. We are obliged to never consciously exclude God from the sexual
act, which is supposed to be an extension of love, within marriage. This doesn’t
mean that every time a married couple sleep together they have to conceive, but
that to aggressively disallow such a result by contraceptives or by sexual
behavior that makes procreation impossible is to remove God from our lives. It
reduces sex to an entirely selfish and self-loving exercise. Homosexual sex has
to be, by its nature, exclusive of God. Thus there can be no such thing as
homosexual marriage, so Catholicism can never affirm homosexual behavior.
that is entirely different from rejecting the gay person, in that we are far,
far more than our sexuality. A child at school may not be sexual, but all of
the evidence of gay-straight alliances is that they approve entirely of
homosexual relationships, encourage a young people to embrace their
inclinations, and reject Catholic teaching in strong, sometimes insulting,
language. They are, in fact, little more than media-shaped and
propaganda-fuelled glee clubs, celebrating the gay community and dismissing
Christian attitudes as archaic and damaging. Yet they have been forced on Roman
Catholic schools and millions of children. Predictably, the Catholic teachers
unionabout as Catholic as a Richard Dawkins look-alike contestbacked the
alliances, and the Church did too little and too late.
is anti-Catholic, and no gay child would be left to suffer, if indeed any
suffering was genuinely involved; it tends to be the seriously devout children
who are the victims in Catholic schools these days. The only bullying now is
from governments and activists, who show far less tolerance for Catholics than
Catholics ever did for them. It’s going to get worse in Canada, as it has in
Britain, and will in the United States. So this is, I suppose, a report from
the front lines. I better start wearing a helmet and flak-jacket!