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Sign a petition calling on Pope Francis to withdraw the Vatican's sex ed program.

Editor's note: Also see the following related articles:

Psychiatrist: Archbishop behind Vatican sex-ed should be evaluated by sex abuse review board
At World Youth Day, Vatican releases teen sex-ed program that leaves out parents and mortal sin
What’s in the Vatican’s new sex-ed program?
Vatican sex ed ‘surrenders’ to sexual revolution: Life and family leaders react

September 2, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) — In recent years, the Catholic Church has been going through one of her most severe crises as a result of the priestly abuse of youth. The primary victims have been adolescent males.1  This worldwide scandal was enabled by the irresponsible and permissive behaviors of members of the hierarchy who made the mistake of “winking” at homosexuality in their priests, according to a Bishop on an EWTN show on the crisis in which I participated. 

This scandal was also enabled by no small number of spiritual directors, who were ignorant of psychological science and told the priests suffering same-sex attractions that they were directing that they were “born that way” rather than referring them to competent mental health professionals, which could have prevented many a youth from being abused.

In order to restore the severely damaged trust and faith in the laity, it is incumbent upon the members of the Hierarchy and priests that they never again act as permissive leaders/shepherds when serious threats are posed to the moral, intellectual, psychological, and sexual well-being of youth.

As a psychiatrist, I have worked extensively with Catholic youth severely harmed psychologically by the divorce of their parents,2 frequently enabled by 'easy’ annulments of their parents’ sacramental marriages, in disregard for justice, mercy and psychological science,3 and by the epidemics of narcissism,4 marijuana,5 pornography,6 and sexual hooking up7 (using others as sexual objects), and the enormous peer pressure to be sexually active, and suffering the psychological conflicts in their parents, siblings, and peers.8

However, in my professional opinion, the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth that I have seen over the past 40 years is the Vatican’s new sexual education program, The Meeting Point: Course of Affective Sexual Education for Young People.

The Meeting Point was released at World Youth Day in Poland by the Pontifical Council of the Family then under the direction of Archbishop Paglia and is now available online, for free, in five different languages.

The immediate response to The Meeting Point was strong and highly critical. Three international life-and-family leaders who have defended Catholic teaching on marriage, sexuality, and life for decades have reviewed and described it as “thoroughly immoral,” “entirely inappropriate,” and “quite tragic.”9

The Meeting Point has also been criticized as deviating from 2,000 years of teaching of the Catholic Church on sexual morality and the moral formation of youth in this area so clearly elucidated and described by St. John Paul II in the Magna Carta for the Catholic family, The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World.

Subsequently, a petition has developed requesting that Pope Francis and the new director of the Pontifical Council of the Family, Bishop Kevin Farrell, withdraw as soon as possible this ‘nightmare’ Vatican ‘sex ed’ program.10

In a culture in which youth are bombarded by pornography, I was particularly shocked by the images contained in this new sex education program, some of which are clearly pornographic. My immediate professional reaction was that this obscene or pornographic approach abuses youth psychologically and spiritually.

Youth are also harmed by the failure to warn them of the long-term dangers of promiscuous behaviors and contraceptive use.11 As a professional who has treated both priest perpetrators and the victims of the abuse crisis in the Church, what I found particularly troubling was that the pornographic images in this program are similar to those used by adult sexual predators of adolescents. 

The person primarily responsible for the development and release of this harmful program, Archbishop Paglia, the former leader of the Pontifical Council of the Family, should be required in justice to go through an evaluation by a review board as described in the Dallas Charter norms for placing youth at risk. Such a review is particularly important as he is now been put in charge of further teaching regarding sexuality and marriage at the John Paul II Institute for Family Studies.

The Meeting Point program constitutes sexual abuse of Catholic adolescents worldwide and reveals an ignorance of the enormous sexual pressure upon youth today and will result in their subsequent confusion in accepting the Church’s teaching. It represents a grave future crisis in the Church and particularly for Catholic youth and families in far greater proportions than the scandalous sexual abuse crisis of youth recently so widely reported in the press.

The Vatican’s “sex education” program should be withdrawn by the new director of the Pontifical Council of the Family, Bishop Kevin Farrell, as soon as possible to protect the health of Catholic youth and be replaced with a new program following the outstanding teaching of St. John Paul II on marriage, youth, family and sexuality from the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World.  The Church has not fully assimilated the wealth of the insights contained in St. John Paul II’s teaching. This must be the mandate for the new Pontifical Council for Family, Laity and Life.

The words of St. John Paul II from his meeting with the American cardinals and bishops on April 23, 2002, on the crisis in the Church are as timely today as they were then for the members the hierarchy, and particularly true for the Vatican.  He stated: “People must know that bishops and priests are totally committed to the fullness of Catholic truth on matters of sexual morality, a truth as essential to the renewal of the priesthood and the episcopate as it is to the renewal of marriage and family life.”

Rick Fitzgibbons, MD is the director of the Institute for Marital Healing outside Philadelphia and has worked with thousands of couples over the past 40 years, including hundreds of Catholic married couples and youth. He is also an adjunct professor at the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family at Catholic University and is board member of the International Institute for Forgiveness.


[1] Fitzgibbons, R. & O’Leary, D. (2011) Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Clergy, The Linacre Quarterly 78(3) (August 2011): 252–273.
[2] Fitzgibbons, R. (2016) Forthcoming: “Children of Divorce: Conflicts and Healing” in Margaret McCarthy (ed.), Torn Asunder: Children, the Myth of the Good Divorce and the Recovery of Origins, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, pp. 51-65.
[3] Fitzgibbons R.  (2015).  Quick and Easy Annulments Pose Grave Risks to the Family.  Retrieved from https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/dr.-rick-fitzgibbons-quick-and-easy-annulme…; Adkins, J. et al. (2015).  Remember our Children.  America, November 12, 2015.
[4] Twenge, J., & Campbell, W. K. (2009). The narcissism epidemic: Living in the age of entitlement. New York, NY: Aria Books.
[5] Fitzgibbons, R. (2016). Retrieved from www.childhealing.com/The Addicted Spouse and Child Healing
[6] Kleponis, P. (2014) Integrity Restored: A Catholic Guide to Pornography.  Steubenville: Emmaus Road, p. 19.
[7] Grossman, M. (2007). Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student. St. Cloud, MN: Sentinel.
[8] Enright, R., & Fitzgibbons, R. (2014). Forgiveness therapy: An empirical guide for resolving anger and restoring hope. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association Books, pp. 171-202.
[9]  Retrieved from https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/vatican-surrenders-to-sexual-revolution-with-release-of-sex-ed-program-life.
[10] Petition urges Pope Francis to withdraw ‘nightmare’ Vatican sex-ed program
[11] Fitzgibbons, R. (2015).  Retrieved from www.thecatholicthing.org/2015/01/29/contraceptions-cascading-rampage.