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Canada Aug. 14, 2018

Archbishop Miller supports TWU’s dropping of community covenant

By Deborah Gyapong

Trinity Western University’s board of governors has voted to no longer require students to sign the community covenant prohibiting sex outside traditional marriage. (TWU photo)

OTTAWA—Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller says he supports Trinity Western University in its decision to drop its mandatory community covenant for students.

After battling all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada,  the university’s board of governors Aug. 9 voted to no longer require students to sign the covenant that included a prohibition against sex outside of traditional marriage.

The governors passed the following motion:

“In furtherance of our desire to maintain TWU as a thriving community of Christian believers that is inclusive of all students wishing to learn from a Christian viewpoint and underlying philosophy, the Community Covenant will no longer be mandatory as of the 2018-19 Academic year with respect to admission of students to, or continuation of students at, the University.”

The decision follows the June 15 Supreme Court of Canada’s release of two 7-2 decisions against TWU that upheld decisions by the Law Society of British Columbia and the Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) not to accredit TWU’s proposed law school because the covenant was deemed discriminatory against LGBTQ students.

“Further to this resolution, the University will actively work to determine ways in which our Christian identity, Mission and ministry can continue to be strengthened, communicated and better lived-out in the context of the TWU community – while simultaneously welcoming and affirming the unique value of each member of our diverse student body,” said Robert G. Kuhn, president of TWU in a statement. Kuhn stressed that despite the decision, TWU “will remain a Biblically-based, mission-focused, academically excellent University, fully committed to our foundational evangelical Christian principles.”

The Supreme Court’s TWU decisions were widely interpreted as a blow to religious freedom and associational rights by the many religious groups that intervened in the case, including the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Archdiocese of Vancouver, the Catholic Civil Rights League, the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada and the Canadian Council of Christian Charities.

Archbishop Miller released a statement Tuesday saying,  “I support Trinity Western University in its decision to no longer require the community covenant, and am pleased that it remains committed to its mission of developing leaders formed in an institution of Christian inspiration. Because I believe the wider community will benefit from greater diversity in institutions of higher education, I hope that TWU will refile its application for accreditation of its proposed law school.”

Canadian Catholic News with files from The B.C. Catholic.