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Calgary Catholic school board dumps Golden Compass

The Canadian Press

CALGARY — The Roman Catholic school board in Calgary has followed the lead of a Catholic school board in Burlington, Ont., in pulling the children's fantasy book The Golden Compass off school shelves.

Board officials said their decision followed concern voiced by parents and recent publicity surrounding the release of a movie version of the book, starring Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman.

“Our children are exposed to a wide range of information,” said board spokeswoman Judy Mackay. “One of our responsibilities is to help them understand how that fits with their belief system and to equip them with the skills so that they understand how they can fit that into their own belief system.”

The book has been out since 1995 and is part of a trilogy written by self-described atheist Philip Pullman. Some people believe it is anti-Catholic and anti-religion; others say it is merely anti-establishment.

It was voted the best children's book in the last 70 years by one survey of readers from around the world.

However, in the United States the Catholic League has urged a boycott of the movie, which opens Friday.

The Halton Catholic board in Ontario announced a couple of weeks ago that it also would not distribute December's Scholastic book flyers because The Golden Compass is available for order.

However, not everyone in Calgary's Catholic community was jumping on the book-banning bandwagon.

Calgary Bishop Fred Henry said there are more pressing issues facing Catholics than debating a children's fantasy novel.

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