NEWS

Supreme Court to hear ethics course appeal by Quebec high school

06/13/2013 05:27 EDT | Updated 08/13/2013 05:12 EDT
The Supreme Court of Canada will hear an appeal from a Catholic high school seeking to be exempted from teaching Quebec's mandatory ethics and religious culture program.

Loyola High School, founded by the Jesuits, wants to be allowed to use its own course and teach it from a Catholic or "confessional" perspective.

The law allows for such an exemption as long as the alternative course is deemed by the minister of education to be equivalent to the provincial program.

The minister turned down the school's request, but the Superior Court of Quebec sided with Loyola and allowed the exemption.

However, last December the Quebec Court of Appeal reversed that ruling.

School seeks right to teach from Catholic perspective

The principal of Loyola High School, Paul Donovan, said the under the education ministry's rules, the school isn't allowed to fulfill its obligation to its students — to provide them with a Catholic education.

"If you say, 'Well fine, we recognize that you're a Catholic school,' and that sort of thing, but then say, "You're not allowed to do the things that a Catholic school would do,' well, that's a problem," Donovan said.

Donovan said the provincial course curriculum prevents teachers at Loyola from telling students that Catholicism is in any way better than other faiths.

"I would argue that what we're doing and what we hope for and what we promote is actually a stronger and a fuller pluralism than what's being promoted in saying , 'Everybody has to think the same way about it,'" he said.

As usual, the Supreme Court gave no reasons for its decision to hear the case.

No one from the education ministry could be reached for comment on the Supreme Court's decision to hear the appeal.

The former Liberal government introduced the ethics and religious culture program, but the PQ government has also been a staunch supporter of secularism.

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