Catholic Morality


May Catholics accept sex education in their schools?

We are noticing today an increase in the number of sexual crimes and illnesses. As a remedy for this, certain politicians propose sex education taught in school from the earliest age. Now, the Roman Church teaches that it is for parents to reveal to their children the mystery of procreation and its dangers, as this becomes opportune, with measure and clarity. Has the time arrived to extend sex education to all Catholic schools?

What is the goal of the promoters of sex education?

They think they can immune the youth against sexual aggressions and diseases by natural means such as preventive instruction, given publicly to all, indistinctively, from the youngest upwards.

What are the main objections of the Catholic Faith to this method of education?

1) It refuses to recognise the inborn weakness of human nature wounded by original sin.

2) It ignores the intrinsic concupiscence in everyone which battles against reason (cf. Rom. VII).

3) It ignores pedagogical experience: the evil practices against good morals are the effect no so much of intellectual ignorance as of weakness of the will, exposed to dangerous occasions and deprived from the means of grace.

In a word, this naturalistic method forgets original sin and the role of grace; it does not deal with the heart of the evil, but on the contrary risks enkindling it and imprudently to activate it in the as yet simple and delicate heart of the child, thus more exposed later to become the slave of his unruly passions.

What are the ill-omened consequences of sex education?

1) An exaggeration of the importance and range of the sexual element in daily life; it is only a means in view of procreation, it is not an end in itself.

2) A rejection of the general experience of educators which attests that sex instruction is seriously unwholesome and prejudicial when not closely allied with constant discipline with rigorous self-control and with the frequent use of prayer and the sacraments.

Can Catholics approve of the method called "sex education"?

"No. In the education of youth the method to be followed is that hitherto observed by the Church and the Saints as recommended by His Holiness the Pope in the Encyclical dealing with the Christian education of youth, promulgated on Dec. 31, 1929" [Decree of the Holy Office, March 21, 1931. (Ed 306)]

But aren't these pontifical norms concerning sex education out of date at present?

"The Holy See published certain rules in this connection shortly after the Encyclical of Pius XI on Christian Marriage. (...) These rules have not been rescinded, either expressly or 'via facti'." [Pius XII: Alloc. to the Fifth Intern. Congress of Psychotherapy and Clinical Psychology, April 13, 1953 (Ed 640)]

Can one approve of what has been written or published even by Catholic authors regarding the new method of sex education?

"No approbation whatever can be given to the advocacy of the new method even as taken up recently by some Catholic authors and set before the public in printed publications." [Decree of the Holy Office, April 21, 1931 (Ed 306)]

What means are put forward by Catholic Tradition to counteract sexual disorders?

1) To have the children instructed individually by their parents in sexual matters in an opportune, measured and prudent fashion, so that they may obtain as a result of their questions a sure, clear and sufficiently explicit answer giving them light and confidence.

2) To give to children a clear, complete, strong and uninterrupted religious instruction.

3) To develop the virtue of chastity which enables the human person to curb his sexual passions and to behave according to reason.

4) To inculcate the virtue of modesty which prevents the threatening peril, impedes one from being exposed to danger, advises to avoid the occasions of falls (unhealthy reading, shows, conversations, etc.), keeps one from a suspect familiarity with the persons of the other sex and respects the body as temple of the Holy Ghost.

5) to encourage the recourse to supernatural means which are prayer, the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist and devotion to Mary Immaculate.

In consequence, what are the duties of Catholic parents vis--vis campaigns to promote sex education?

"Father of families, (...) there are many other Christians throughout the whole world and in all countries, fathers of families like yourselves, who share your own sentiments. Unite with them therefore (...); call to your aid all Catholic women and mothers with their powerful contribution, in order to fight together, without human dignity or respect, to stop and curtail these movements under whatever name or under whatever patronage they conceal themselves or are patronised." [Pius XII: Alloc. To the French Fathers of Families, Sept. 18, 1951 (Ed 573)]

N.B. All the above texts cited have been drawn from the following book: Papal teachings: Education. selected and arranged by the Benedictine Monks of Solemnes, Boston, by the Daughters of St. Paul. For easy reference consult the number following the abbreviation: Ed.

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