mercredi 2 septembre 2009

A dark day for the rights of parents and their children

Montreal. Tuesday, September 1, 2009. In a judgment rendered yesterday and expected by thousands of parents in Quebec, Judge Dubois of the Superior Court in Drummondville rejected the petition of a parent seeking an effective interpretation of the law which permits exemptions from the course on religious culture and ethics for children in primary and secondary schools The judgment is premised on an interpretation of the Catholic position on education to conclude that the course does not infringe on the fundamental rights of conscience and religion.

The Association of Catholic Parents in Quebec rejects the judgment as unacceptable, because it deprives citizens of all faiths the fundamental right of parents to guide their children in religious and moral development according to their own convictions, and it interferes with the freedom of religion and conscience of our youth.

The judge rejected an offer of proof of a recent statement from the Vatican which expresses and confirms the position of the church on teaching religions in schools. This document, published by the Congregation for Catholic Education, dated May 5, 2009, clearly says, “If religious education is limited to an exposition of comparative religion, supposedly neutral, it will be the source of confusion, or induce belief in relativism or indifferentism.” The document recalls that such instruction “violates the rights of parents when children are required to take a course of instruction which is contrary to the religious conviction of parents or imposes a form of education in which all religious instruction is excluded.”

On the other hand, if as the judgment claims, John Paul II recognized the importance of an objective knowledge of religions, he primarily affirmed the duty of public schools to make room for the presence of a true teaching of religion within its walls. As was said by the Congregation for Catholic Education: Public education “must guarantee to parents, precisely because it is open to all, not only that instruction will not endanger the religious faith of their children, but on the contrary, will complete their integral formation by providing them with an adequate religious instruction in their faith. This principle should be included in the concept of religious freedom and idea of a truly democratic state, respectful of its most profound and authentic nature, seeking to serve its citizens and respect their rights and religious convictions.”

Pope John Paul II has also taught that, “in conformity with international standards and the rights of mankind, it is absolutely necessary to assure parents the right to chose education of their children in conformity with their faith.” – Familiaris Consortio.

“There is no possible basis in the documents cited by the judge for him to claim that the compulsory study of other religions at a very young age is acceptable to the Vatican,” said Marie Bourque, spokeswoman for the Association of Catholic Parents in Quebec. She continued, “Traditionally, such instruction was given toward the end of secondary school when children already understand their own religion and have attained sufficient maturity to study world religions.”

Mme Bourque concluded, “This judgment diminishes the importance of parents in the education of their children. Furthermore, it creates a dangerous precedent in that a civil court has imposed its own interpretation of the teaching of a church based upon a biased viewpoint in order to deny fundamental rights of parents and their children. It is not for the government or the courts, or even churches, to replace parents in the choice of religious and moral education of their children.”

The Association of Catholic Parents in Quebec hope that this cause will be taken up to the Quebec Court of Appeal.

Contact person: Marie Bourque 514‐484‐0524
Source : Association des parents catholiques du Québec (APCQ)
7400 boul. St‐Laurent local 407
H2R 2Y1

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