Such responsibility has been made all the more significant in
light of the tragic cases all over Canada of the sexual abuse of children by
members of the clergy. The Winter Commission Report from Newfoundland,
published in the aftermath of Mount Cashel, makes a direct link between the
cover up of abuse and denominational schooling: "The acceptance of patriarchy
begins early in the life of Church community members. ...The denominational
school experience, while providing in many cases an important experience of
community, may also have tended to compound paternalistic and patriarchal
attitudes. Some educators spoke of this prevailing climate as a natural
breeding ground for abuse's The experience of past mistakes makes it all the
more incumbent upon Catholic teachers to speak out today.
Although the arbitration panel eventually ruled in my favour,
finding that the Board had disciplined me for political rather than
denominational causes, the skirmish with denominational rights illustrates how
far a Catholic school board is prepared to go in asserting its rights over
teachers. The Catholic church has often allied itself with the interests of the
status quo and the powerful, rather than following the example of Jesus Christ
and acting as the advocate of the disempowered. My case illustrates the risks
but also the rewards of speaking the truth. It is my conviction that what
Gandhi called satyagraha, or the force of truth, will eventually prevail.
I take the view
that we have
to students to
In these tumultuous times, when inherited denominational rights
of Catholic school boards clash with the individual rights of teachers and
subvert the aspirations of women in church and society, it is my hope that the
victory gained for all Catholic teachers by my case will empower all of us to
work for a better world for all our children.
Joanna Manning is a
secondary school teacher with the Catholic School Board of Metropolitan
Quoted in "School Law," The OECTA Reporter, Vol.4 No.3,
Robert G. Keel, "Freedom of Speech in and Out of the
Classroom," Edu-Law Bulletin, #37, January 1994.
Aloysius Ambrozic, Report on the Pastoral Visitation in
the High Schools in the Archdiocese, October, 1985.
Interview reported in The Catholic Register, April
- Archdiocese of St. John's, NF, Report of the Archdiocesan
Commission of Enquiry into the Sexual Abuse of Children by Members of the
Clergy, Vol. 1, June 1990.
Waiting for Morning
Huddled in flowered bathrobe
present from mother
making poems, making do
with your life of
cold coffee, and the rain
that keeps announcing itself
and the dream that woke you
scattered in this artificial
its few discernable shreds like
obscured prisms into another
a limb, a breast, a bit of flesh.
Some things cannot be reclaimed:
The familiarity of your
body, dreams, sleep,
the slips in your past.