in the Sex-ed Circle
Britain’s largest chemist chain, Boots, both embodies and caricatures the reflex secular response we have come to expect in the wake of such bleak statistics. On 3 December 1998, claiming affinity with the aims of Government Health policy which are allegedly "meeting the needs of young people," Boots opened an in-store family planning clinic in Glasgow dispensing (literally - but legally) fistfuls of the Pill, the morning after pill, condoms and sex-education leaflets to teenagers, without any parental knowledge or consent and with no lower age limit on recipients.(2)
Following the Boots initiative, secular commentators throughout the land typically polarised the issue, castigating those ‘irresponsible types’ who hand out contraceptives willy-nilly and those fundamentalists "who yearn for the time when teenage sex was the last taboo." From the Guardian to the Telegraph, media pundits of whatever political hue adopted this PC line before plumping for the status quo i.e. to suggest a ban on freely available contraception among teenagers was "a brutal argument" which "would inevitably lead to more misery not less," while quality sex-education was the key since "teenage girls do not get pregnant because sex lessons are an incitement to lose their virginity or because condoms are free at Boots in Glasgow" [Daily Mail, 15/12/98].(3)
The overriding message was that "ignorance" is not an option for schoolchildren - because "sensible contraception is an asset to society" [The Scotsman, 4/12/98]. The problem, we are constantly being told, is not sex-ed per se but ‘poor’ sex-ed i.e. nothing a little ‘good’, professional, classroom sex-ed won’t fix. Thus revolves the sex-ed circle of dissolution and despair: classroom sex education hastens the social and moral anarchy that generates more sex-ed i.e. ever more petrol to fan the rising flames.
The Circle: The Pseudo-Catholic Response
Next to the restoration of the Mass, the problem of classroom sex-education is the most pressing in the Church today, because a genuine Catholic restoration without children imbued with what is good and chaste is an illusion. And yet it is not only faithless liberals within the Catholic establishment who maintain the necessity of classroom sex-ed. In England, the FAITH Movement, for instance, has publicly and insistently championed TeenSTAR, a sex-ed course "so objectionable and pornographic," according to Father Paul Marx of Human Life International, "that the editors of the Washington Times actually censored parts of a  advertisement" alerting parents to its dangers. The fact that TeenSTAR promotes NFP rather than contraception is apparently thought by some orthodox Catholics to obviate the concerns of the "many parents who complained about their daughters’ being instructed to monitor their cervical mucus after menarche and their adolescent boys’ being told to record their sexual arousals." Similarly, the Couple to Couple League, a commendable NFP apostolate, has produced a Kindergarten through Eighth Grade course called New Corinthians which preoccupies the minds of very young children, both in the classroom and in lessons recommended for the home, with subjects of a sexual/erotic nature which the Vatican says are to be avoided at all costs. Colleen Kelly Mast’s Love and Life series is another that set out to improve classroom sex-ed based on Church teachings but merely succeeded, like the rest, in cheating parents and children by making public and open what by nature is private and intimate.
Under the guise of "chastity" education, many similar well-intended programmes produced by orthodox Catholics have attempted to tame and Catholicise the classroom sex-ed beast. Since unchallenged acceptance of classroom sex-ed is the norm, it is very easy to be fooled by orthodox connections and good intentions. But between orthodoxy and respecting the rights of parents, there is the whole world of content, emphasis and approach. Hence the chief complaint about programmes like TeenSTAR: too much; too soon; too little moral content and spiritual emphasis.
The Circle: "A universal ban"
Likewise, Archbishop Stephen Sulyk of Philadelphia, Metropolitan of all Ukrainian Catholics in the USA, opposes classroom sex education and "remains committed to the traditional teaching of the Church that sex education falls within the domain of parental responsibility." While Miroslav-Ivan Cardinal Lubachivsky, Archbishop Major of all Catholics of the Ukrainian Rite and stationed in Rome, has encouraged Catholics "to continue to protect the innocence of children by working for a universal ban on classroom sex education."
The Kenyan Bishops, too, have recently said an unequivocal "no" to sex education programmes, which, they stated, are "from time to time sneaked into schools through all sorts of disguised titles such as guidance and counselling, adolescent health, [and] life planning skills. Family Life Education is a programme to radically alter the behaviour of Kenyans. Beginning with very young school children, it aims to instil a value-free notion of sexual relationships to replace the African family with a Western individualist model, bring about acceptance of contraception, and remove the abhorrence people feel for abortion."
Catechesis: Love child of church and State
Bishops like Brendan Comiskey of Ferns, who headed the Bishops’ publishing arm Veritas and whose seminary was a renowned bastion of dissent and New Age ideas, subsequently polarised the sex-ed controversy along the secular lines detailed earlier. He was to criticise opponents of classroom sex-education, extol the expertise of teachers in the matter and effectively belittle parents, declaring "the need to be honest and open, especially in dealing with the questions posed by young people." Lifeskills programmes then blossomed in Catholic schools as State-run training courses instructed thousands of teachers in the use of psychotherapeutic techniques for giving "formal education in male/female relationships." The Bishops also published a widely criticised sex-ed programme called Love Matters and a number of bishops endorsed a privately published, sexually explicit "religious education" textbook for 12-14-year-olds.
And as for Cardinal Cahal Daly, his recent angst about the immorality and dissent all around us is an astonishing feat of self-deception, since he himself defended and promoted the appalling Education for Love sex-ed programme in Northern Ireland during the 1990s. Spurning the protests of concerned parents, he ensured that his Belfast teacher-training college (which produced the programme) would provide a steady supply of indoctrinated teachers to spread its sexually explicit poison to Irish children!
Many years before, as Bishop Daly, he had fully approved and bullied through to completion the wickedly deficient Children of God catechetical series, thus paving the way for a generation of Catholic illiterates(5) while simultaneously removing any opposition future sex-ed programmes might encounter by way of truly Catholic catechesis. First compiled in the 1970s by the then Father Bill Murphy (now Bishop of Kerry) in partnership with a priest and a nun who both later abandoned their religious vocations, the Children of God series failed to meet the norms of the Vatican’s General Catechetical Directory published in the mid-70s. It was revised in 1985, just as the sex-ed push intensified, but remained strewn with errors, omissions and dangerous ambiguities, falling far short of the Vatican norms for cathechetics and Pope John Paul’s specific requirements. A further so-called "re-presentation" of the Children of God series is now known as Alive O 1, Alive O 2, and Alive O 3 and has been approved by all the Bishops of Ireland for use in Catholic schools [see Mrs McLeod’s damning critique in this issue].
In view of all that, readers will hardly be shocked to learn that on the eve of the millennium, after years of cuddling up with the State, the Irish hierarchy has produced a little monster; a treacherous hybrid called sensual catechesis. The Bishops’ Alive O catechetical series, which concentrates infant minds on Self and Sex while denying them the Faith, has now been fully integrated into the Government’s pagan Relationships and Sexuality Education [RSE] programme! This explosive combination is nothing less than a death-wish; a mockery of Catholic faith and morality and a curse on Catholic Ireland so evidently callous and foul that the Lord’s dreadful "millstone" retribution [Mark 9:41-42], reserved for those who corrupt the innocent, suddenly seems too lenient by half.
Meanwhile, across the road, the Scottish episcopate is also preparing to destroy the serenity of countless childhoods by integrating Alive O into its own explicit RSE programme, dressed up with the usual array of biblical references and pious soundbites to salve the episcopal conscience. And just like their British counterparts, the Irish Bishops are not fazed by their critics. Bishop Thomas Finnegan of Killala, for one, insists that "the Children of God-Alive O series does meet the Holy Father’s requirements that the truths of Sacred Scripture and Catholic Doctrine are transmitted adequately and appropriately." In true postconciliar style, distraught parents are fobbed off with gratuitous statements about the primacy of parental rights, the need for RSE to conform to Catholic principles and the unwavering loyalty and obedience of Irish Bishops to the Holy Father – none of which bear the slightest resemblance to the reality recounted by his long-suffering correspondents.
Bishop Finnegan and his mainstream-Modernist brothers are not only ‘in denial,’ but rather pleased with themselves into the bargain. Take the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, Dr. Dermot Clifford. As innocence is ravaged and infant souls disfigured all about him, he finds himself "consoled" by the findings of a survey which recently showed above national average turn-outs at weekly Mass and monthly Confession. "The prevailing wisdom that the Catholic Church is in terminal decline," he chortled, "is given the lie here and in rural Ireland in particular." He was doubtless further buoyed by the fact that around 70 per cent of the 505 people surveyed believe he and his clergy are doing a good job.
Last chance saloon
In other words, the Irish are poised to step beyond the point of no return - to climb aboard a remorseless, circular treadmill which fuels social breakdown by destroying modesty, innocence and chastity in the classroom - Unless parents can be brought to see in double-quick time that you cannot square the sex-ed circle; that there is no such thing as "good" classroom sex-ed; that there is no such thing as good "Catholic" classroom sex-ed. Full stop!
(1) Journal of the New York State School Nurse Teachers Association, Winter 1977, Spring 1978.
(2) Those British readers who have not yet done so are urged to join the boycott of Boots stores - and to let them know why. Write to: Lord Blythe, Chairman, Boots PLC, Thane Road, Nottingham, NG90 1BS.
(3) Contrary to this PC view, Dr. Rhoda Lorand, a New York psychotherapist, speaks of the "cherished illusion… that alerting youngsters to the availability of contraception is a neutral activity. The alert carries a clear, if perhaps unintended message which seduces many a young person who would otherwise not have become active." In other words, many children invariably understand instruction in sexual matters as encouragement to practice.
(4) The full text of this refreshingly direct statement is available from Catholic Insight, PO Box 625, Adelaide Station, 36 Adelaide St, East Toronto, Ontario, M5C 2J8, Canada. Fax: 416-368-8575.
(5) As early as 1982 the state of religious ignorance of the first generation of children educated using the Bishops’ Children of God textbooks and programme was revealed in "A Survey of Senior Students Attitudes Towards Religion, Morality, Education 1982," report no. 18 by the Bishops’ Council for Research and Development. The survey covered 13 girls’ schools, five boys’ schools and seven co-educational. It was very carefully designed and carried out in the southern portion of the Republic. Findings included: fewer than one in three 16-18-year-old boys and girls believed in the Real Presence; barely half of them firmly believed in God’s existence or Heaven; only 17.1% believed in the devil and only 11.3% in Hell. There was also a very high level of acceptance of premarital sex, contraception and, to a lesser extent, abortion.