Diocese yields to backlash over gender diversity in schools

Australia’s Catholic Parramatta diocese has yielded to a backlash from parents and priests over its opposition to a bill banning the discussion of gender diversity in schools.

The Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta (CEDP) split from Catholic Schools NSW, the statewide body, over its opposition to Mark Latham’s anti-trans education bill.

Although later superseded by a subsequent submission, in its submission into an inquiry into the bill to parliament, the CEDP described Latham’s proposal as “counter to promoting and respecting the human dignity of all.”

It is “an unacceptable incursion into the professional judgement of Catholic schools and school systems,” the CEDP wrote.

Reacting to CEDPs views in the submission, some priests and parents in the diocese accused Parramatta’s bishop, Vincent Long Van Nguyen, of “heresy.”

They called on him and CEDP boss Greg Whitby to resign.

Long then overruled Whitby in a new submission which he said “superseded” the CEDPs contribution.

The Parramatta diocese “affirms the prohibition of teaching gender ideology (gender fluidity) in an educational setting”. He added that he had “serious concerns, echoing Pope Francis, about this ideology,” Long wrote.

He then cited the Catholic position on gender theory set out by the Vatican in Male and Female He Created Them.

“The young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created,” Long quoted from the paper

Without explicitly supporting or opposing the bill, Long said it must not “prohibit a school from supporting children who are already at risk of marginalisation because of gender identity issues.”

The diocese “strongly affirms the Catholic teaching that parents are the primary educators of their children in matters of faith and education,” he said.

The about-face followed Long’s letter to parishioners and parents on April 27 in which he assured them the earlier decision to oppose the bill was guided by Catholic teaching.

“I emphatically reject the notion of gender ideology,” he wrote.

“What I advocate for is a compassionate, respectful, inclusive, Gospel-centred learning environment and a deep commitment to the wellbeing of all students, particularly those at risk.

“Their lives must not be made more intolerable by unjust laws such as elements of the ‘Latham’ Bill that I have articulated above.”

The Parramatta Catholic diocese includes 80 schools, 43,000 students and 5000 staff. Priests leading the backlash included one – Father John Rizzo, who urged Long to resign.

“Your stance regarding homosexuality is at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” Rizzo wrote.

“Your zealous approach to ‘inclusivity’ towards the LGBTQI community is very confusing to Catholics wanting to be faithful to the church.”

Catholic Schools NSW chief executive Dallas McInerney, supported the backlash against discussion of gender diversity in schools and welcomed Long’s new submission.

“[We] look forward to engaging with Mr Latham’s inquiry further on this matter now that we have the benefit of a more aligned position,” he said.


Additional reading

News category: World.

Tags: , , ,