Patricia Grell, well known on this blag for being basically the only Catholic with a conscience in the whole of Edmonton, dropped a piping hot revelation before Edmonton’s municipal elections take off: Catholic bishops have been pressuring elected school boards to adhere to church policy, rather than public law.
Not only is it an occupational hazard for Boards to be overrun by their administrators but with Catholic boards, the problem is compounded by the role of the church hierarchy. Canon Law 803 states that “A catholic school is understood to be one which is under the control of the competent ecclesiastical authority…No school, even if it is in fact catholic, may bear the title ‘catholic school’ except by the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority”. Instead of working collaboratively with the ECSD Board, Archbishop Richard Smith chose to use this Canon to put undue pressure on it.
In December 2014 Archbishop Richard Smith used Canon Law to threaten to remove the catholic designation of the ECSD Board when Trustee Bergstra was intending to bring forward a motion to encourage the establishment of GSAs in our Catholic schools. All the administrators and trustees who were present at this meeting at the Pastoral Centre – about 10 of us — would have to lie under oath to deny that this happened. I am embarrassed to admit that in those early days of my term, I was influenced by the archbishop’s threat and asked Trustee Bergstra not to bring forward her motion. She didn’t and in the end didn’t have to because the provincial government soon passed Bill 10.
Not only did the archbishop threaten the Board but he meddled in our Board’s policy making. When Trustee Acheson and I were working on developing an LGBTQ policy, Archbishop Smith wrote a letter to Trustee Acheson to wait for and follow what the Catholic Superintendents were developing (cf. Letter from Smith 20.08.15.) Neither Catholic Superintendents nor the archbishop is elected and their job is not to write policy for school districts. This is the role of duly elected trustees. Yet here is an example of administrators and the hierarchy working together to try to undermine the role of elected Boards.
Burn it all to the ground. Plough the whole damn thing with salt. Why we still funnel funds to a brazenly corrupt and criminal organization is beyond me.