Speaking Against Patriarchy: Women in the Catholic School System

by Joanna Manning

My case
concerned the
right of
teachers to
freedom of
expression on
issues of the

In a previous article entitled "Criticizing the Pope: A Catholic Teacher's Experience" (Wedf, Fall 1994), I outlined the successful arbitration case I fought against the Metropolitan Separate School Board (MSSB) in Toronto over my removal in 1992 as a teacher of religion. For several years, I had been an outspoken critic of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, specifically on issues related to women and sexual abuse. An article in the Toronto Star, in which I was critical of the Vatican's role in obstructing discussion of birth control at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, was the immediate occasion of the disciplinary action against me. In September 1994, I was restored to teaching religion.

The repercussions of my case extend far beyond the four walls of a high school classroom. They involve a veritable web of issues-legal, educational, theological and political-all of which can be explained in the context of what is happening in the global Catholic community at the present time. This article is an attempt to unravel some of that web.

The court proceedings in my grievance eventually led to legal arguments based on the constitution. In his closing summary, counsel for MSSB resorted to what he termed "the unfettered management rights in a denominational system to determine who should teach religion." The rights of denominational schools derive from Section 93 of the BNA Act of 1867. One of the principles of uniting the otherwise disparate colonies of Upper and Lower Canada was to grant respective religious minorities equal religious prerogatives. This concept of religious tolerance entered public discussion at the same time as the idea of mass public schooling.

Section 93 (1) of the BNA Act reads:
In and for each Province the Legislature may exclusively make Laws in relation to education, subject and according to the following Provisions:
( 1) Nothing in any such Law shall prejudicially affect any right or Privilege with respect to denominational schools which any class of persons have by law in the
Province at the Union;
(2) All the powers, privileges and Duties at the Union by Law conferred and imposed in Upper Canada on the Separate Schools and School Trustees of the Queen's Roman Catholic Subjects shall be the same as are hereby extended to the Dissentient Schools of the Queen's Protestant and Roman Catholic subjects in Quebec.

Les femmes dans le système scolaire catholique expriment leur pensé sur le patriarcat
par Joanna Manning

Cet article traite des questions juridiques, éducatives, théologiques et politiques qu'a soulevées le procès que j'ai intenté au Conseil des écoles séparées du Grand Toronto en 1992 a la suite de mon renvoi comme professeur de religion (voir Wedf, automne 1994), procès que j'ai gagné par arbitrage.

L' Acte de l'Amérique du Nord britannique de 1867 accorde aux écoles catholiques le droit de discipliner on de renvoyer un enseignant ou une enseignante pour une cause confessionnelle. Ce droit n'est pas annulé par les droits individuels stipulés dans la Charte des droits (y compris la liberté d'expression) bien que récemment plusieurs cas aient remis en question les droits de l'Église. Dans mon cas, la question était de savoir si j'avais attaqué la nature catholique de l'Église en critiquant la pape la hiérarchie de l'Église ou ses préceptes patriarcaux. Le débat s'est cristallise, opposant la morale prédominante des conservateurs de droite dans la hi de l'Église une théologie plus libérale, qui gagne du terrain parmi les laïcs et le système scolaire catholique. En fait, le groupe d'arbitrage s'est prononce en ma faveur.

Comme beaucoup de mes collègues je pense qu'en notre qualité d'enseignants, nous avons la responsabilité a l'égard de nos élèves et de la communauté de dénoncer les abus de pouvoir dont nous sommes témoins.

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