November 6, 2017, (LifeSiteNews.com) – German Catholics are protesting a program endorsed personally by the archbishop of Berlin that gives “practical tips” to Catholic sex educators on how to teach children about their “sexual rights,” advising them that adult sex with a minor is permitted, as long as it’s “consensual,” and outlining the process of obtaining an abortion.
The program also seeks to eliminate “taboos,” “prejudices,” and “stereotypes” regarding various forms of sexual deviation, including homosexual behavior and masturbation, treating such impulses as part of a person’s identity. At the same time, it seeks to resolve the “tension” between such behaviors and the Catholic Church’s “official” doctrines on human sexuality.
“A church that tries to impose people's opinions today is crazy,” writes Berlin archbishop Heiner Koch in his introduction to the program. “We need to take note of the diversity of ideas about sexuality in our society. However, in the company of young people, we also need to be in a position to make a profound statement that the Christian faith and its image of man can free themselves to self-realization, to true relationship and intimacy.”
The program’s “Practical tips for the use of methods in sexual pedagogical work with youth groups,” posted on the archdiocesan website, addresses the question, “When is it normal to have sex?” It gives a list of hypothetical “situations” regarding minors involved in out-of-wedlock sexual activity and then provides “answers” to those situations regarding the minors’ “right” to engage in the behavior. Catholic doctrine on sexual morality in the document is left unmentioned.
In hypothetical “Situation 2” a 22-year-old man has a 15-year-old girlfriend with whom he wishes to have sexual relations. The archdiocese writes, “In principle, persons of legal age may sleep with minors, provided it is consensual sexual acts/intercourse. It gets difficult, however, whenever sexual acts or intercourse are forced.”
In “Situation 6,” a girl named “Milena” has an “unwanted pregnancy.” While the document discusses options for receiving state support for her as an unwed mother, or for adopting, it adds, “In the context of pregnancy conflict counseling Milena can be advised on the possibility of abortion.”
“In the consultation, the father of the expected child or even her parents can be present if she so wishes. She even has to show that she took part in a consultation should she decide to terminate. In the consultation, the father of the expected child or even her parents can be present if she so wishes. No matter how Milena decides, she can get advice and has the right to psychological support,” the document continues.
The “tips” even explain how minors can obtain contraceptives without their parents finding out, and implies that those under 14 years of age can obtain contraceptives to facilitate their sexual activity, despite the fact that it is illegal.
In “Situation 5,” readers are told, “Laura (15) would like to sleep with her boyfriend and considers different contraceptives.” However, she’s afraid her parents will find out. The archdiocese notes that, as “Laura” is under 16 years of age, her doctor can inform her parents that she wants oral contraceptives. However, “Laura” can “try to convince the doctor that she is mature enough to make that decision.”
The archdiocese notes that “for under-14s it will be difficult to get a prescription for contraceptives since intercourse for under-14s is prohibited by law.” However, it adds that “in principle, adolescents can buy over-the-counter contraceptives such as condoms and a diaphragm at any pharmacy. If you are uncomfortable asking for it in a pharmacy, you can also buy condoms anonymously in a drugstore.”
Other “situations” include teenage girls in lesbian relationships and a boy who wants to be tested for venereal diseases without being detected by his parents. Both are within the legal “rights” of minors, the archdiocese states.
German Catholics respond with a petition
A group of German Catholics outraged by the archbishop’s apparent endorsement of pro-abortion materials has organized a petition to ask him to remove them from the archdiocesan website, entitled “The Archdiocese of Berlin should finally stop giving teens tips on abortion!”
“Incomprehensible! The Archdiocese of Berlin gives 15-year-old pregnant women tips on how to kill their child. . . . This exposes the archbishop of Berlin, Heiner Koch, as a follower of the feminist pro-choice ideology, which gives the right to life of unborn children to the arbitrariness of their mothers. Pro-Choice is not opinion, but murder!”
The petitioners ask the archbishop to “take the unspeakable abortion tips immediately from the website of the Archdiocese of Berlin. The church has the right to defend the right to life of the unborn and a moral obligation to act as the protective power of innocent children in public.”
However, the petitioners make no mention of other material on the site that normalizes and legitimizes out-of-wedlock and homosexual sex acts.
Archbishop seeks 'conversation' with adolescents about their values
The materials were originally presented by the Archdiocese of Berlin at a conference called “In ‘Freedom and Responsibility’: Sex Education Work in Catholic Institutions” in February of 2016.
According to Archbishop Heiner Koch, the conference sought to “trace the tensions between Catholic sexual morality, one's own attitude, life-world and the sexual pedagogical requirements in the workplace and to get into conversation about it.”
“Abortion, Homosexuality, Masturbation: The spectrum on the topic of ‘sex’ is as far-reaching in Catholic education and care facilities for children and adolescents as society dictates,” states the archdiocese on its webpage regarding the event, “But the taboos are also big, as educators and social workers admitted at a conference.” Conference materials seek to help adolescents clarify their own values in a dialogical manner.
Archbishop responds to complaints, but protesters not satisfied
Following an outcry from German Catholics over the abortion “tips” given in “Situation 6,” the archbishop ordered a paragraph be added to that section noting that it is “difficult” to teach about the law “completely detached from moral issues,” and that the “ecclesiastical context” “offers the topic of ‘protection of life.’” According to the archbishop, this makes it “clear” that Christian values are to be taught along with the material. Other statements were added affirming that girls can’t be pressured to have abortions.
However, the petitioners were not satisfied with archbishop’s response. “The document still states (supplemented by a few remarks): ‘Even girls under the age of 18 have the opportunity in principle to be able to terminate a pregnancy without penalty in the first twelve weeks. (…) No matter how Milena decides, she can seek advice and has the right to psychological support .’”
“Unfortunately, this is only a half-hearted appeasement by the archdiocese, but not a true commitment to a culture of life!” add the petitioners. “We must therefore maintain our protest and continue to apply pressure. The document should completely disappear from the site of the archdiocese!”
The material represents a long-established tendency of extreme laxity regarding sexual morals among German-speaking Catholic clergy and laity. German-speaking bishops, Such as Walter Kasper and Christoph Schönborn, have provided the principal impetus for the acceptance of adulterous second marriages in the Catholic Church. The permanent council of the German bishops’ conference has approved giving Holy Communion to those who are living in such marriages.
In recent years the German bishops, in particular, have promoted the notion of “diverse family types” and have even published an article defending same-sex “marriage.” Some German bishops, however, are resisting this tendency.