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Teaching Tolerance in the Catholic School

[This document was prepared on behalf of a group of Catholic parents to address issues locally that may also be going on elsewhere in the country. It is published here as a resource for parents who may find it useful.]

Teaching Tolerance in the Catholic School: Parental Concerns and Suggested Remedies

When Pope Benedict authorized a wider celebration of the old Latin Mass in 2007, some folks had their feathers ruffled. But the Pope himself diffused the ruffling by using the “T” word.  He informed us that this authorization was an “act of tolerance” towards those who had an attachment to the old Latin Mass.  The old Latin Mass was and still is a fine Mass, permitted by the Church.  If we found ourselves among those who personally didn’t care for it, then we could surely be “tolerant” towards those who cared for it greatly.

But the modern understanding of tolerance has run amuck.  Acts are either morally right or wrong.  But modern education blurs this truth and makes sin appear gray.  This has caused a graying of truth.  This graying of truth is called moral relativism.  Sometimes “tolerance” is misunderstood and used to defend moral relativism.  Moral relativism can rot society from within.   According to Pope Benedict, moral relativism “undermines the working of democracy.” 

Tolerance-based moral relativism has gradually crept into society.  As an example, the Pew Form on Religion and Pubic Life has reported that the public is much more tolerant toward homosexuals than it was twenty years ago… In May 2003, a Gallup poll showed that when ‘asked whether homosexuality should be considered an acceptable lifestyle or not, 54% said yes…’

This positive philosophy towards homosexual acts is promoted by organizations like Teaching Tolerance.  And Teaching Tolerance is in the Catholic School.

Teaching Tolerance is a project of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  According to the law center’s website: “The Southern Poverty Law Center is a nonprofit civil rights organization dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry, and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of society.”   But the philosophy it uses to fight hatred and bigotry is neither Catholic nor Christian in nature.   For example one of the functions of the Southern Poverty Law Center is to defend LBGT (Lesbian, Bisexual, Gay, and Transgender) “rights.”    

Teaching Tolerance promotes anti-Catholic thinking.  Some of their morally offensive and anti-Catholic articles are cited below:

  • Lesbian Teen Wins Prom Equality
  • Say No to “Don’t Say Gay” bill (This article opposes a Tennessee bill that states “No public elementary or middle school shall provide any instruction or material that discusses sexual orientation other than heterosexuality.” )
  • Maine, Marriage and Me (This article supports gay marriage and gay “families.”)

Sadly, Teaching Tolerance videos have crept into the Catholic school.  Examples of Teaching Tolerance videos which are in the Catholic school include:

  • Invisible Children
  • The Children’s March, and
  • Bullying 

When we teach “tolerance” in Catholic education we need to teach from, and reference resources that teach “tolerance” from, a Catholic view.  To continue to use resources in the Catholic school which hold philosophies contrary to Catholic teaching is to further moral relativism and thus further promote degradation of the family and thereby shoot ourselves in the feet.  The Catholic faith is transmitted through the family.  To degrade the family is to weaken and even destroy the primary means of transmission of the faith.  By destroying that transmission, we act not as agents of evangelization but as agents of destruction of the faith itself.

Teaching Tolerance resources and videos have no place in a Catholic school or as part of any Catholic education curriculum.  Nor should Catholic school finances be used to purchase their material and thus fund and further advance their agenda.

The Church and Our Lord incite us to charity.  Who wants to be tolerated?  Isn’t the deepest desire of each one of us to love and be loved?  We show love for others by calling them to high moral standards and by following the Golden Rule.  The Golden Rule, which comes forth from the very mouth of God, requires that we actively respect and act kindly towards one another—that we actively seek another’s good.    If we actively seek the good of our brothers and sisters, cruelties like bullying, hazing and name-calling are inherently precluded.  Also precluded is treating others as objects of sexual gratification.  This, and not some disordered worldly concept of tolerance—which actually means approving of sin—is what needs to be taught in Catholic schools.