The bishop of Thunder Bay is criticizing the Ontario English Catholic Teachers Association for taking part in the World Pride parade later this month in Toronto.

Fred Colli said the World Pride parade is not the best venue to express inclusivity in the Catholic school system, due to the church's teachings about homosexuality.

He expressed his concerns in a letter he says he drafted to help other Catholics who share his misgivings. 

“Some people asked me and said, well, Bishop Colli,  I'm not sure exactly what to write so could you help me,” he said.

“So I put down a kind of a little form letter, to say 'Use this as a guide to assist you in maybe making your comments known to the OECTA president.”

First time attending gay pride event

james ryan

Ontario Catholic school teachers union president James Ryan noted that, in the past, “the local unit (in Toronto) has taken part, and my understanding is that other (Roman Catholic) units and Catholic groups have taken part in [gay pride] parades in other parts of Ontario." (Supplied)

The president of the Catholic teachers union said the decision to have the provincial body take part was made by delegates at the annual general meeting “as a sign of support for students, for teachers, and for other Catholics who identify as LGBTQ, and in recognition of the persecution they suffer.”

James Ryan said some countries execute or imprison people for being gay, and Catholic teachings make it clear that that kind of discrimination is wrong.

"We've also made it very clear all along that we do support the church's teachings on issues such as chasity, which calls all of us, regardless of our sexual orientation, to lead chaste lives,” Ryan continued.

"This is the first — and probably the only — time the provincial OECTA will have a presence in the parade, because this is the world pride parade.  Normally if this were the Toronto Pride parade, this would be a local issue, which would not call for provincial involvement."

Ryan noted that, in the past “the local unit (in Toronto) has taken part, and my understanding is that other (separate school teacher) units and Catholic groups have taken part in parades in other parts of Ontario."

Colli said he is not hearing a lot of talk in Thunder Bay parishes about the issue.

"I don't really think it's such a big deal in the sense that the Bishops  of Ontario have expressed their concern to the OECTA union about it,” Colli said.

“I think we were going to just leave it at that, but because there were people who expressed their concern to me, and they're saying 'Bishop, what are you going to do about it?' and I said well the best thing to do is to write to the OECTA president and express your concerns."