St Patrick’s College, a Catholic boys’ school in Queensland run in the Edmund Rice tradition, has recently spent an entire week focussing on inclusivity whilst excluding key aspects of the gospel. Edmund Rice was the founder of the Christian Brothers and their schools in Australia, including St Patrick’s, are administered under the auspices of Edmund Rice Education Australia.
The college’s Facebook page states that ‘as an Edmund Rice community our Charter calls us to work to support all people and welcome them’, valuing ‘each and every member of our community’.
College activities during the week included all students participating in assemblies ‘to explain and unpack the symbolism of the Pride flag’.
Compulsory flag raising
These were followed by students’ compulsory participation in a short Pride Flag Raising Ceremony along with two 30-minute ‘formative lessons’ to begin ‘conversations about LGBTQ+ issues in our community’.
The theme across the college was ‘Pride in you. Pride in me. Pride in us.’ with students being encouraged to use the paradoxical hashtag of #MenOfHumility.
As a former gay activist, I know the Pride Flag intimately well. It is a deliberate abomination of God’s rainbow which until recently had always been connected explicitly with God’s covenant, but which now inevitably leaves people estranged from the covenant path.
The Pride Flag employs six colours rather than the holy seven, deliberately missing the colour rose, which is used in the Church’s liturgy on Gaudete Sunday in Advent and Laetare Sunday in Lent.
These two Sundays remind us that the journey of humility and repentance has nearly ended and that fresh graces of the Incarnation and Resurrection await us. Of course, pride cannot entertain humility or repentance.
The Pride Flag is also used as a deliberate symbol to protest male and female and heteronormativity, to embrace pansexuality, and to strengthen queer voices which challenge traditional morality and family life and which wholly undermine Catholic teaching.
The Pride Flag is also used as a deliberate symbol to protest male and female and heteronormativity, to embrace pansexuality, and to strengthen queer voices which challenge traditional morality and family life …
Sidelining those who don’t conform to ideology
The rainbow is not merely a symbol but a living example of God’s faithfulness. It assures us that God has not forgotten us and that he continues to work to redeem every aspect of our lives, including sexuality.
No one should stand by and watch another person be bullied. However, the tide is turning fast. The new heroes across government schools, and increasingly across Catholic schools, courtesy of Edmund Rice Education Australia’s so-called Safe and Inclusive resources, are now those who come out as same-sex attracted and transgender. Those not wishing to publicise their sexual attraction are further sidelined.
Evidence shows time and again that human sexuality rarely settles down until a person’s mid-twenties – and who at some point wasn’t slightly drawn in high school to a member of the same-sex in an upper school year?
The real purposes of Pride Week
It is not unusual for high schoolers to be comfortable with members of their own sex, and to lean in affectionately towards them. However, LaTrobe University’s Safe Schools and Edmund Rice’s Safe and Inclusive initiatives have teenagers questioning whether they are in fact more homosexual than they might initially have thought.
This is the very purpose of Pride Week, and of society’s increasing embrace of Pride Month. Like any propaganda, if you keep repeating it and lure people to try it, they will eventually come to believe it.
Yes, it is important to engage in appropriate conversations based on human sexuality with teenagers in a world saturated with sexual messaging. However, to fail – and miserably so as private educators – to include the fullness of the Church’s redemptive and life-giving teaching alongside the proven science that no one is born homosexual or transgender is to do a grave injustice to the students involved, especially when Christ’s passion set about to redeem all human sexuality.
Are students given the whole picture?
Contemporary research on human sexuality, Free To Change, includes analysis of same-sex attracted and gender questioning individuals from across Australia. It reveals that to move away from an LGBTQ+ identity, whilst in no way denying the reality of one’s sexual attraction and feelings, increases mental health, lessens suicidal ideation, brings about a greater sense of social cohesion, and improves overall well-being. Are students educated in the Edmund Rice tradition being informed of this? I suspect not.
One same-sex attracted alumnus from a Christian Brothers college courageously shares his own story on this website, speaking of the moral failures during his education. He mentions regular exposure to hardcore pornography during a day at his all-boys’ high school, stating that “some of the teachers were encouraging students to be sexually explorative and today they even promote homosexuality.”
“I wonder,” he goes on to say, ‘how many of my peers have been left, like me, struggling with addictive behaviours.’
A Faith prepared to challenge ideology
His concern touches on true belonging and inclusivity when he states that ‘without the Church’s clear teaching on sexuality, access to the Sacraments of Reconciliation and of the Eucharist, I believe my mental health would have plummeted drastically. I have seen this happen often to other same-sex attracted individuals who reject their faith and the wisdom of the Church.’
He witnesses that the valuing of each community member is dependent on lives yielded towards Christ, a rallying cry never heard on any Pride parade.
It’s hard to escape the impression that aspects of what the Christian Brothers today call ‘education’ resembles a dangerous institutionalised cave-in hidden beneath the title of pastoral care. It is not surprising, therefore, that the critical comments on the college’s Facebook page outweigh those deemed to be constructive.
The 55 Edmund Rice schools across 16 Australian dioceses would do well to adhere to the words of Sirach. “Pride,” the scribe writes, “is hateful to God and humanity; and injustice is abhorrent to both.” (10:7)