The Quebec government is planning to appeal a superior court ruling that has granted Loyola High School the right to opt out of teaching a provincially imposed course on ethics and morality.
The private high school in Montreal's west end is a Jesuit Catholic institution. It fought an order from the province's education department to teach a non-denominational ethics course, implemented two years ago, that would take a secular approach to introducing students to a variety of religions -- from Judaism to Aboriginal spirituality.
"I think it's pretty safe to assume that we'll be appealing this ruling," said Charest.
Education Minister Michelle Courchesne added: "It is a difficult judgment that's for sure."
Justice Gerard Dugre rendered his decision Friday, and ruled that the province was violating the school's freedom of religion -- which is guaranteed by Quebec's charter of rights.
"The judge basically compared the attempt of the education minister to impose the secular emphasis to the intolerance of the Spanish Inquisition -- so (he was) very strong in his judgment," said CTV Montreal reporter Herb Luft.
Paul Donovan, the school's principal, said a debate over the issue was necessary.
"I think it definitely opens the door to looking at how can confessional institutions pursue the common good and recognize others, and can they do it as a confessional institution? I think the question that has been answered is, yes," he said.
Maria Monteferrante, whose son attends Loyola, said she was pleased with the judge's decision.
"It's my faith, it's my belief, it's my traditions, it's my values -- and that's what I want my child to be raised in," said Monteferrante.
Marie Bourque, of the Catholic Parents' Association of Quebec, echoed Monteferrante sentiments.
"We find it a victory for democracy in Quebec, for democracy in education especially, for parental rights, for freedom of programs in education."