A strength of the American system is freedom of education; parents can choose private schools or even no schools, if they educate their children at home. Some choose schools to give their children a rigorous religious grounding. Still, it was hard not to feel a pang of concern for the children of Immaculate Heart of Mary School in Harvard, whose principal, Brother Thomas Dalton, was unusually outspoken in his fiery determination to boycott this weekend’s Saint Patrick’s Day Parade if it included gay marchers.
In a letter to the Globe, Dalton justified his choice as if the Bible demanded it. “Jesus Christ once compared the Kingdom of Heaven to a wedding feast. When the king saw a guest not properly attired, he said to his servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into exterior darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 22:13). All that over improper dress; what would he have done to a group parading unnatural lust?”
In the wider world, people understand that political activists often cherry-pick pieces of scripture to justify their views. Such admonitions should be received in perspective — with an awareness that each person seeks spiritual guidance and then chooses his or her own path.
Indeed, Pope Francis’ call for change of focus on social issues, including his refusal to condemn homosexuals (“Who am I to judge?”), has made it impossible to view words and actions such as Dalton’s as simply expressions of fidelity to the church hierarchy. Many parade marchers who have no objection to the inclusion of gay groups — and members of gay groups themselves — consider themselves observant Catholics. Hopefully, the children of Immaculate Heart of Mary School will be able to understand that, however powerful and sincere his faith, Dalton’s views on gays are, ultimately, only his own.