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''You do not mean by mystery what a Catholic does. You mean an interesting uncertainty: the uncertainty ceasing interest ceases also... . But a Catholic by mystery means an incomprehensible certainty: without certainty, without formulation there is no interest;... the clearer the formulation the greater the interest."—Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), British poet, Jesuit priest. Letter, Oct. 24, 1883, to Robert Bridges. Gerard Manley Hopkins: Selected Letters, ed. Catherine Phillips (1991).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Free Speech and Religion Under Attack at UVic

Members of the Catholic Students' Association (CSA), together with their Chaplain and supporters, waited patiently for three hours the evening of Monday, Dec. 10th at the UVic Student Union building while the University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) Board met in camera to discuss motions targeting CSA activities related to an incident at Clubs and Course Unions Day this past September.

In what could be considered nothing less that a blatant infringement of the right to freely express the teaching of the Catholic Faith in a public forum at a public university, the UVSS, spurred on by certain members of the gallery, gave near unanimous approval to the motions listed in the document below.

As noted in point "B" of the document, the CSA is facing restrictive measures due to print materials, i.e., pamphlets, on the CSA table which presented Church teaching regarding human sexuality, specifically same-sex attraction.

The UVSS aims to restrict the the dissemination of information which promotes the Catholic teaching on human sexuality. The UVSS action infringes on the right of Catholic students to exercise religious freedom and freedom of speech enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Despite some UVSS Board members' attempts to mitigate the punitive force of the document by describing the Board's actions as an attempt to facilitate dialogue, the document mischaracterizes the content of the CSA material in question and recommends highly restrictive actions to be taken against the CSA. The wording of the motions was rightly challenged by a former UVSS Board member as inappropriate, overly broad and lacking proper foundation. Too true.

As it stands, the language of the document reflects an attempt by the UVSS to forcibly re-educate those who disagree with UVSS policies. Failing complete compliance with the motions, in all likelihood the Board with deny club status to the CSA. The next Clubs Day is this January, 2013 at the beginning of the second semester.

In what appears to be a concerted effort by certain students to incite restrictions against the CSA, an individual took a pamphlet on her own initiative then issued a complaint claiming harassment. The complainant, accompanied by associates, was present at the UVSS meeting and, with latitude granted by the Chair, took opportunities to lob pejorative comments that only succeeded in confirming that these irrational actions have been initiated by individuals making a pitiable attempt to gain approval at the expense of truth, reason and justice. By contrast, Catholic students maintained decorum throughout the meeting.

The UVSS has a history of harassing student groups which disagree with its policies. Youth Protecting Youth (YPY), the student pro-life group, fought back and took the UVSS to court, winning the right to funding and privileges typically granted to all clubs.


UPDATE
The activity heats up.
Eye On The UVSS • The Blog of Mr. David Foster.

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