Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty has indicated that he will fight the upcoming election largely on the issue of funding for faith-based schools. What is your view on the issue of funding for faith based schools?

Last Friday, the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on this topic that made several important points. They said that Catholics have long struggled for the public funding of Catholic schools. They have done so to ensure that their Catholic faith could be successfully transmitted to their children, from generation to generation. The parents of more than 600,000 students in Ontario continue to share that vision today. The public funding of Catholic Schools recognizes that parents have the right to make educational choices for their children, and that the state should assist them.

"The Bishops of Ontario are proud of our Catholic schools and the positive contribution that they and their graduates have made and continue to make to our diverse society" said Bishop James M. Wingle, President of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Ontario Bishops position on the funding of faith-based schools is clear and has been available on their website for years. In 1989, they expressed support for parental rights in education including public funding for faith-based schools, which only reflects the age-old teachings of the Church: "Our commitment to the best education for all students impels us to respect and support the wishes of parents in other faith communities for religious education in the public school system or for alternative schools which will reflect their values and beliefs. The primacy of parental rights in education is a value which should be realized not only by Catholic parents but also by others. We have publicly committed ourselves to support the concept of the development of alternative schools for people of other faith communities."

Bishop Wingle concluded, "We continue to support the position we expressed in 1989, although we leave it to others to determine the methods for giving effect to these important rights."