A sign on the gate greets students and staff at an Arizona Catholic school. CNS photo/Nancy Wiechec

Faith is common life

  • April 2, 2015

The day the Supreme Court released its decision in the case involving Montreal’s Loyola High School, I thought it was merely more judicial zaniness on offer.

I was wrong, though not entirely without reason. The court, of course, agreed unanimously that the Quebec government violated the private Jesuit school’s Charter rights by refusing it an exemption from the so-called Ethics and Religious Culture program. It then split 4-3 on the remedy, and how far the exemption should go.

The upshot, at first blush, seemed to be that it took seven years of legal fighting, and the seven most powerful legal minds in Canada, to decide that Catholics at a private Catholic school could teach their Catholic students about Catholicism from a Catholic perspective. Zany would be one word for it. There are others.

A deeper dive into the judgment, however, reveals much more. It shows the Loyola decision goes far beyond the specific impact on the school at the corner of Sherbrooke and West Broadway in Montreal. In a public sense, if not in the ability to predict outcomes of future legal cases, it moves Canada substantially forward in securing a place for faith in common life.

It does so by setting out, with great clarity, that under the Charter, faith is due a place in our common life.

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