Church Backs School Amendment

Article excerpt

Despite some reservations, the Anglican Church in Newfoundland supports a constitutional amendment put forward by the province which would streamline the province's school system and eliminate religious control of school boards.

Currently, the Roman Catholic, Pentecostal, and Seventh Day Adventist Churches operate their own school systems, while the Anglican, Presbyterian, Salvation Army and United churches operate an integrated system.

Bishop Donald Harvey of the Diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador represented the three Newfoundland dioceses before a Senate committee in July.

"It is in the best interests of all concerned that we bring the matter to a speedy conclusion," he told the committee, which examined the schools issue.

The bishop told the senators that the longer the matter was left undecided, "the more entrenched opinions will become, with the task of reconciliation and rebuilding relationships made even more difficult."

The Roman Catholic and Pentecostal churches - which both run their own separate boards - were concerned about the amendment because it curtails protections for the province's denominational schools. That protection was written into the Constitution in 1949 when the Newfoundland joined Confederation.

The amendment, which the committee recommended that the Senate pass, would replace the 27 school boards operated by four denominational groups with 10 boards which would be more publicly accountable.

(The Senate, which sits again Sept. 24, may either pass the amendment, change it, or turn it down.)

All Newfoundland's schools will be either interdenominational, offering religious education in different faiths, or, where numbers warrant, will remain denominational. …