A Time to Tear Down, a Time to Build

Quite literally front and center, marching down the main streets of Toronto, gay men and women will once again be flaunting their flesh and simulating their favorite behaviors, despite a city ordinance prohibiting public nudity. Wearisome are the displays of what passes for happiness in a dead world.
 A few people are upset about it. They are afraid that the august laws of Canada will be flouted, and that’s not a good thing for children to witness.  Sheepish people still jittery about the etiquette of legality, when you have shrugged away the laws of God, the common good, the welfare of the family, and plain human decency! You might as well toss a lace doily at a tank.

According to an article at Life Site News, the defenders of the nudity freely admit that the very purpose of the parade is to express their wanton sexuality and hedonism.”  “In your face sexuality is the point of the damn thing,” says one promoter.  Those who don’t like it, says another, can stay home with their children and watch “priests raping children” on television. 

Meanwhile, leaders of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association (OECTA) will be joining the festivities. They claim they wish to show solidarity with the most – here comes the inevitable word – “marginalized” group of people in the Catholic Church. For people on the margins, they sure do get around.  You cannot open a Canadian newspaper without hearing from them, day after day. You cannot watch a day of Canadian television without a gay altar-call. You cannot, apparently, attend a Catholic school in Ontario without being hectored about it.

Now, there are plenty of Catholics who are not marginalized or margarinized or whatever le mot du jour may be. That’s because they don’t even make it to the margins of the page. They don’t make it to a single gloss or footnote. They are perfectly invisible. They may as well not even exist.

They are boys who – well, they are just boys. No one in Canada has considered their welfare since the days of Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald, when Mounties rode horses and Canadians had a culture. They are young people trying to follow the moral law, who find themselves quite  shut out of what passes for social life in their schools and colleges.  They are children of divorced parents. They are abandoned spouses, their marriages dissolved against their will. 

They are Catholics who long for reverent Masses. They are fighters for the rights of unborn children, pleased if they meet no worse than indifference from the career bureaucrats in the chancery. They are parents who want their children to live in a wholesome and sane world.

          Catholic children parading, New York, 1957

Those people get no notice from anybody. No one throws a parade for any of these people. You will never see Ontario honoring young men and women who have kept their bodies pure, entering into marriage as innocent as babes. You will never see the OECTA marching alongside old married couples who raised children and remained true to their vows. You will never see them promoting their schools as havens of sweet and natural girlhood and boyhood. No, these Catholics, struggling to be faithful in a sub-pagan world, would be delighted to make it to the margins.

Consider, too, the power that members of the OECTA wield. They, not the parents or the bishops or the parish priests, control the “Catholic” schools in Ontario. But as Pope Leo XIII said in Sapientiae Christianae (1890), it is incumbent upon Catholic parents “to hold exclusive authority to direct the education of their offspring, as is fitting, in a Christian manner; and first and foremost to keep them away from schools where there is risk” – note, “risk,” not certainty – “of their drinking in the poison of impiety.”

But our schools are organized for impiety. They pass out poison not accidentally but on principle. They peddle not liberty, which can only be won by virtue and the ordering of the passions, but license. “Pleasure,” says Leo in Libertas praestantissimum (1888), becomes “the measure of what is lawful; and, given a code of morality which can have little or no power to restrain or quiet the unruly propensities of man, a way is naturally opened to universal corruption.”

In other words, the members of OECTA can be trusted – to corrupt. Anyone who wishes to wade through a pool of the stupid and squalid need only go to the websites of the companies that hawk books to the teachers in our schools, both public and private. That shouldn’t surprise anyone.  Somebody who struts down the streets of Sodom is not going to hesitate to continue the parade, within the covers of the books he assigns to schoolchildren.

There’s no reforming a group like the OECTA. We should of course strive to pull individuals out of the road to the everlasting bonfire.  But once an organization has begun to sign checks to Beelzebub – with eyes wide open, spelling out the demonic name, and proud of it – there’s nothing to do but tear it down and burn the debris.  

In other words, it’s time to build all over again. We desperately need Catholic schools. They can bear only the most superficial resemblance to the public and pseudo-Catholic schools. That is, there will be classes in English, math, and so forth. But otherwise we’d do well to swear off all the rest of it. We cannot hire from the same pool of teachers. We cannot use the same textbooks. We cannot mimic the same insane habits of instruction. 

We cannot accept the same vision of a “good” life. We cannot smear religious makeup over a malignant melanoma. We must return to Catholic education: a truly human education.  

Anthony Esolen is a lecturer, translator, and writer. Among his books are Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture, and Nostalgia: Going Home in a Homeless World, and most recently The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord. He is Distinguished Professor at Thales College. Be sure to visit his new website, Word and Song.