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Three Toronto Catholic District School Board trustees have voiced their opposition to a motion filed by a fellow trustee to fly the International Pro-Life flag for the entire month of May each year.

The motion is scheduled to be debated by the board of trustees on April 23, but the move has attracted the ire of some on the board who want the public to know where they stand on the issue.

Trustees Kevin Morrison of Toronto (Ward 9), Maria Rizzo for North York (Ward 5) and Markus de Domenico (Ward 2) took a stand against Del Grande’s (Ward 7) motion that would also require students of the TCDSB to take part in the annual March for Life in Ottawa. 

Students and staff who are unable to go would be required to learn the teachings of the Catholic Church around abortion.

Del Grande in the motion states Catholic trustees are bound by oath to vote for the resolution as they have sworn to be faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

De Domenico told True North in an interview that he rejects the idea that this motion is supposed to be “some kind of litmus test” to prove he and the other trustees are Catholic enough for Del Grande’s standard.

“I think when you go down the road of trustees judging other trustees catholicity or outsiders driving their agenda and saying, ‘you’re not as Catholic as I am or this.’ That is not what we stand for. And it shouldn’t be,” de Domenico said. “We’re always about students, not politics.”

He said he wouldn’t support “any element of this motion,” but is working on his own motion that would affirm the board of trustees’ pro-life stance.

He objected to the motion because there is already a pro-life lens in the curriculum which is co-produced by bishops of the archdiocese, students are in a learning deficit due to the COVID-19 lockdowns so they shouldn’t miss any more school, and “no one is familiar with this flag.”

“The Catholic Board is, of course, pro-life. It believes in the dignity of the person, in the sacredness and sanctity of life,” de Domenico said. “We don’t need to reaffirm that through an American flag, a march for life supported by an American group or “Campaign Life” in Ontario.”

The International Pro-Life flag was made by Brazilian designer Nanda Gasperina as part of a competition hosted by The Pro-Life Flag Project, a self-described grassroots initiative with a number of U.S. partners.

De Domenico, along with eight other Trustees including Rizzo, did vote in May of 2021 to fly the Pride flag throughout the month of June each year.

The Pride flag in both its original form made by Gilbert Baker in 1978, and the current Progress Pride Flag made by Daniel Quasar in 2018 originated in the U.S.

When True North asked de Domenico whether or not he agrees with the Church’s teaching on abortion and its re-criminalization in Canada he said, “I can’t speak to the church’s position on re-criminalization.”

“Catholic trustee’s have to protect our opportunity to have publicly funded Catholic education,” de Domenico said. “Do you really think that it’s appropriate for a publicly funded Catholic board to stand for issues that really hurt our ability to have a board?”

When asked on Global News’ 640 radio show why he voted to fly the Pride flag de Domenico said the Canadian flag doesn’t need to be the only flag flown.

“The idea of the pride flag was to recognize the struggles that that community has been through, and to acknowledge that that community is welcome in Catholic schools,” de Domenico said.

Jack Fonseca from Campaign Life Coalition thinks de Domenico is inconsistent.

“Out of one side of his mouth, he argued the pro-life flag, which is totally harmonious with the Catholic faith, is too political and doesn’t belong in a Catholic education. And out the other side of his mouth, he argued that the, homosexual and transgender pride flag, which is extremely political…is not political and is perfectly fine to fly at the Catholic school board,” Fonseca told True North.

“There is no more marginalized community than children in the womb who can be legally killed in this country,” Fonseca continued. “If he truly believes the purpose of a flag is to show support for marginalized communities. Then he should be the first person in line to vote in favor of the pro-life flag, in support of marginalized children in the womb.”

The Archdiocese of Toronto’s Archbishop Frank Leo refused to comment.

Rizzo and Morrison who criticized the motion in the Toronto Star, did not respond to True North’s requests before the article was published.