I’m not going to tell you what to believe, but I am going to present the facts to you. I believe in the one true Catholic Church and I adhere to the authority of the Pope. So, when news sources try to confuse his words or make the Catholic Church seem as if it is “modernizing” or “becoming radical” in any way, I don’t spend my time reading that stuff. I figure that if the Pope really wanted to change something about contraception or let women be deacons, he would have an official statement regarding it and not go through news channels. And I wait for his words.
My thoughts were the same when the controversy about the Vatican’s Sex Ed Program or, officially, The Meeting Point: Project for Affective and Sexual Formation. I let it brush off my shoulders. After all, my kids are way too young to be learning about any of this stuff and we homeschool. I don’t have to worry about it yet… right?
But, the topic kept coming up again and again in the news, on Facebook, and in mom’s groups. So I’m here to present you the facts. I’m offering you the tools so you know what the sometimes one-sided media isn’t telling you. Now you’ll have all the details… in one blog post without having to do the detective work. Ta da!
What is it?
The program is called “The Meeting Point: Project for Affective and Sexual Formation,” and the new materials offer “an educational path in love that helps young people discover the beauty of mutual self-giving and the pursuit of happiness through the gift of body and spirit.”
The project was created under the collaboration of Catholic University San Antonio of Murcia, Spain. All materials are available for free in English, Spanish, Italian, French, and Portuguese, including texts for students and teachers, activity books, and movie recommendations. (See it here.)
What is the controversy?
LifeSiteNews‘s primary concern is that this program is created to be in a Catholic classroom setting and in a home setting. They are concerned that if these moral and ethical issues are raised in a classroom setting, it takes away from the parent’s primary responsibility as the child’s educator and from the family’s domestic church. Here is a quote from LifeSiteNews:
“Famed Catholic thinker Dietrich von Hildebrand, Ph.d, called by John Paul II ‘one of the great ethicists of the twentieth century’ and by Pope Benedict XVI one of the ‘most prominent’ figures in the intellectual history of the Church in the last century, held that any form of classroom sex education damaged children.
“’The nature of sex, itself, must first be grasped if we are to estimate the damage done to the souls of children by the so-called sex education in the classroom — damage not only from the moral point of view, but also from the one of human integrity and spiritual health,’ he wrote in an essay published in 1969, eight years before his death.
“Protecting the ‘holy bashfulness’ of young people while passing on the ‘moral significance’ and ‘mysterious character’ of sex can only be done by parents…
“’To develop the right attitude and vision in the human person toward this sphere of sex, there exists only one possibility; namely, information about the mystery of sex must be disclosed in great reverence and in a strict duo-personal dialogue, of the father or the mother with their child. Absolutely excluded is the pseudo-scientific teaching about sex in a classroom — that is, in a neutralizing and publicity-saturated atmosphere,’ he wrote.
“Parents are ‘responsible for sex education in the true sense of education,’ he wrote, adding that they ‘must protect the child from all neutralizing discussions of this field.’”
What is the Pope saying about it?
According to Crux,
“The project is a response to Francis’ document on the family, Amoris Laetitia. In one of its passages, the pontiff writes: ‘It is not easy to approach the issue of sex education in an age when sexuality tends to be trivialized and impoverished. It can only be seen within the broader framework of an education for love, for mutual self-giving.’
“…Those materials are directed to high schools, and it’s styled as a “complement or aid to the task of parents.
“…On May 20, 2015, Francis criticized the ‘intellectual critics’ that he said have ‘silenced’ parents in order to defend younger generations from real or imagined harm. He also regretted that schools are often more influential than families in shaping the thinking and values of children, with parents having no say in what schools teach them.
“If family education regains its prominence, many things will change for the better. It’s time for fathers and mothers to return from their exile – they have exiled themselves from educating their children – and slowly reassume their educative role,” Francis said.”
Are we going to see this in Catholic schools soon?
According to The Cardinal Newman Society, “United States bishops [have not] proposed adoption of the program. It has only been presented online as a resource—and not even a final program but “an opportunity to convene a large community of people to collaborate, to work, to exchange experiences and knowledge in this special field of education.’”
Ok, so I’m glad that the Pope wants parents to participate in the domestic church and be the primary educators. I am also pretty modest and I wouldn’t want my child exposed to all of this information in front of her peers. But, after having reviewed the educator and student handouts on the website, I would love to incorporate this into my moral and faith training at home. It’s good stuff.
There is some material that may seem questionable, but my child is going to encounter that same stuff when she goes to college or in advertisements. I would rather be the one talking her through it than sheltering her and having her find her own way (or someone else educating her), and I think this program is perfectly designed for parents walking through sexuality with their child.
Is the program perfect? No, it isn’t. This is a petition against the program and, as much as I agree with some of the points the petition makes, I’m not going to sign it. Because we’re a homeschooling family and homeschooling families have learned to adapt and add in their own material to make a curriculum meet their family’s needs.
This program isn’t perfect, and it’s advertised as a “resource,” not the full package. If you decide to use it, you’re going to need to take some material out or add in some of your own ideas to perfect it for your family.