Why are Catholic bishops so eager to avoid a fight over graphic sex ed?
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April 17, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A stray item of good news, like an isolated beam of sunlight during a storm, emerges today on sex education in the U.K. Warwickshire County Council has withdrawn a particularly bad sex education program which it was imposing on its schools. Christian Today reports about this program:
The programme came to national notoriety last September when one family shared their concerns with the press about their two small children being taught the “rules for self-stimulation” at primary school. It was subsequently revealed that the lessons promoted transgenderism to 4-year-olds and homosexuality to 6-year-olds, that marriage and commitment were not mentioned once, and that traditional moral beliefs were likened to people who think sex is “rude” or “funny”.
Complaints by local families were backed up by the Evangelical group The Christian Institute, and the County Council has finally folded. They’ll be using materials, soon to be published, from the central government instead.
It’s a small victory: the government materials may be better than what Warwickshire was doing, but they are sure to be completely unacceptable all the same. You can see a full-length talk I gave on the general problem here, and I won’t go into all that. A telling aspect of this story, however, is a later paragraph in the same report.
Church leaders from across Warwickshire welcomed the move. They said, er, they said... sorry, actually they said nothing, at least not anything that has reached any public media outlet. Just as they apparently had nothing to say when the problems with the programme were first exposed.
The writer, Will Jones, may be thinking primarily of Anglican “church leaders,” but Catholics have nothing to be proud of in the response of their own bishops. The official body controlled by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, the Catholic Education Service, have welcomed – yes, actually “welcomed” – recent government legislation making the sex education scheme more draconian and more compulsory that before. The terms in which they welcomed it, suggesting that it would remain possible to deliver the sex ed curriculum in accordance with Catholic values, suggests that they have not bothered to read the relevant documents, but if it is ignorance, it is wilful ignorance.
Over many years it has been apparent that our bishops are extremely eager to avoid a fight with the government over the issue, and the attitude of surrender to the sex ed agenda has even spread to the Holy See. The excellent document produced on the subject by the Pontifical Council for the Family, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, is long forgotten: 1997 seems an age ago, and this Pontifical Council was abolished, as an independent entity, in 2016. Similarly, the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences was renamed and given a new mission in 2017, with its associated Australian college closed.
Something similar happened to the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2016, for, one can only assume, similar reasons. The Church has a set of teachings on life and sexuality which are at odds with the attitudes not only of sinful humanity, but of increasingly assertive governments and intergovernmental institutions. Old-fashioned ideas are now seen not as views demanding respect and accommodation, but as obstacles to progress which must be eliminated. The second decade of the 20th century was the moment when the Church had to commit herself to an all-out war on these subjects, or abject surrender. All-out war was inconceivable, so we’ve had surrender instead.
Why inconceivable, you may ask? You might think that the Church has been pushed into such a corner, such fundamental issues are now at stake, that a broader range of opinion within the Church would be prepared to make a stand than before. Even liberal Catholics, surely, must balk at teaching “self-stimulation” to small children, for example.
They might indeed, but that is not how things are being presented to them. It looks more like this. The Church and Society are two separate things: religion is something which for now can be carried on in private, behind closed doors. To preserve this area of privacy, we must not rock the boat about what Society is getting up to. It is best to put our fingers in our ears and pretend not to notice. When our children come home from school filled up with all this stuff, we can try to undo some of the damage, but they’ll almost certainly be lapsing from the Faith when they grow up, and they will need to live in Society, so they must learn its ways. The rest of us won’t have to wait very long, anyway, before we are euthanized in a formerly Catholic hospital or care home, perhaps endowed with the proceeds of sale from the local parish church.
Perhaps future popes and bishops will see a way out of this death spiral. While we are waiting for that to happen, we need to attach ourselves to the small but growing movement of faithful Catholics who are doing what they can to resist it.