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John Smeaton of Society for the Protection of Unborn ChildrenSteve Jalsevac/ LifeSite

Editor’s note: The following talk was given as part of an online conference title “Fathers’ Call to Bishops: Help us to defend our children’s purity.” The virtual event was organized by Voice of the Family and made available via LifeSiteNews on October 9, 2020.

October 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – A new coalition, Parents in Defence of Primary Educators, has been established in the UK, comprising Catholic Man UK, the Latin Mass Society and the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. Our coalition wants to protect our children and grandchildren from the British Government’s pro-LGBT, pro-contraception and pro-abortion relationships and sex education policy – now enshrined in law.

Tragically, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales (CBCEW) has repeatedly welcomed and expressed their support for this terrible law, due to come into force in September 2020.

It’s our conviction, in the Coalition, that, in the terrible crisis we face today not least in our Catholic schools because of the false teaching of our bishops, our spiritual fathers, it’s time for natural fathers to step forward, and to protect our children by imploring Our Lady’s help, and by correcting our bishops and by urging them to lead the public and parents in resisting legislation which threatens the immortal souls of our children.

Yes, Catholic parents are praying that our bishops change direction and that they begin to lead Catholic resistance to the British Government’s wicked legislation which makes relationships education compulsory at primary school and Relationships and Sex Education compulsory at Secondary School.

The significance of the bishops’ betrayal of parents of all faiths, who want to protect their children’s purity, can be clearly seen in statements made by British government ministers. For example Nick Gibb, Minister of State for School Standards, speaking in the House of Commons debate on 25th June 2019, dismissed objecting parents saying “I am afraid that it is unlikely that we will bring those extreme ends of the debate into that consensus, but I am very content that we have secured the support of the Catholic Church, the Church of England and organisations such as Stonewall for the guidance we have created.” 

Stonewall is a militant homosexual organisation which campaigns against Catholic teaching.

On 12th September 2020, my fellow Coalition leaders in Parents in Defence of Primary Educators and I delivered a letter to H.E. Vincent Cardinal Nichols, the Archbishop of Westminster and President of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. Our letter expressed our deep concern about the bishops’ position.

If you want to get involved in our coalition, you can go to our website primaryeducators.org.uk and sign up to hear about our future events. You will find there our letter to Cardinal Nichols – and you may wish to write yourself to your local bishop to express your concerns, respectfully but firmly, or raise the matter with your local clergy.

In the next presentation in this conference, Dr Tom Rogers will be going into distressing detail of the extent of the betrayal of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales and you will find Dr Rogers’s full article on the topic on the Coalition website. 

For my part, I want to put the terrible situation in Britain into global ecclesiastical context. 

On 24th October 2015 94% of the bishops and cardinals attending the Ordinary Synod of the Family in Rome voted to approve a paragraph in the Final report which rejects the right of parents to choose to be the sole educators of their children in sexual matters.

The sentence, in paragraph 58 of the document, reads:

“The family, while maintaining its primary space in education (cf. Gravissimum Educationis, 3), cannot be the only place for teaching sexuality.”

This paragraph is directly contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.

In his Encyclical Sapientiae Christianae (10th January 1890), on the chief duties of Christians as citizens, Pope Leo XIII teaches: 

“By nature parents have a right to the training of their children, but with this added duty that the education and instruction of the child be in accord with the end for which by God's blessing it was begotten. Therefore it is the duty of parents to make every effort to prevent any invasion of their rights in this matter, and to make absolutely sure that the education of their children remain under their own control in keeping with their Christian duty, and above all to refuse to send them to those schools in which there is danger of imbibing the deadly poison of impiety.”[26]”

Pope Leo XIII’s words are given greater weight by virtue of their being cited by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical Divini Illius Magistri on Christian Education (31 December 1929) In this encyclical, Pope Pius XI goes on to say:

65. Another very grave danger is that naturalism which nowadays invades the field of education in that most delicate matter of purity of morals. Far too common is the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education, falsely imagining they can forearm youths against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, such as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and, worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so it is argued, and as it were to harden them against such dangers.

66. Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and the law of which the Apostle speaks, fighting against the law of the mind;[43] and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect not so much of ignorance of intellect as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsupported by the means of grace.

The teaching of Pope Leo XIII and Pope Pius XI was also upheld by Pope Pius XII in an address to French fathers on 18th September 1951. The words of these Popes are steeped in Divine Law, in apostolic teaching and the tradition of the Church, as well as in a sensitive and holy knowledge of the reality of the constant battle between good and evil in the soul of every human being. 

Catholic parents today have an obligation to compare and contrast the teaching of these three Popes on sex education to the following words from Pope John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio, his apostolic exhortation on the family in 1981, which very much fail to convey the full teaching of the Church on the sacred obligations of parents to guard their children from temptation:

“Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents.” (No. 37).

Pope John Paul II’s instruction appears simply to take for granted the teaching of sex education in schools, falling into the very error described by Pope Pius XI fifty-two years earlier “the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education”

Anyone familiar with what was happening in practice in Catholic schools in the 70s and 80s and even more so today – as I am, having taught in a respected Catholic grammar school in London in the mid-70s and as chief executive of SPUC with reports from throughout Britain of appalling abuses of children’s innocence taking place in Catholic schools–would understand how Pope John Paul II’s teaching, departing from the teaching of previous popes, has catastrophically failed to protect our children from evil.

Even more so, Catholic parents today have an obligation to compare and contrast the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI and Pope Pius XII to the position now adopted by the Vatican and Pope Francis: A few months after the promulgation of Amoris Laetitia, an apostolic exhortation in which Pope Francis called for sex education in educational institutions, the Pontifical Council for the Family published a sex education programme called The Meeting Point at the World Youth Day in Poland in July 2016.

This programme, which is intended to be taught in schools, in mixed classrooms, adopts a secularised and secularising approach, and exposes children to obscene and pornographic images.

Finally compare and contrast the teaching of Pope Leo XIII, Pope Pius XI, Pope Pius XII to the teaching of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales who in a training document for teachers say that an “exalted form of love exists just as powerfully in relationships between people of the same sex as it does in heterosexual relationships”

Returning to the synods on the family which took place in Rome in 2015, and in the previous year:

In the interim report [the Relatio post discepatationem] of the Extraordinary Synod of 2014 and in the preparatory document, the Instrumentum Laboris, of the Ordinary Synod in 2015 there were passages that suggested that homosexual unions, while not equal to marriage, nonetheless have some degree of legitimacy. The synod fathers, bishops from around the world, rejected this approach: no such passages are found in the final reports of either synod.

The rejected approach however was reintroduced in Amoris Laetitia, The Joy of Love, Pope Francis’s post synodal apostolic exhortation, which states, in paragraph 52, that:

“We need to acknowledge the great variety of family situations that can offer a certain stability, but de facto or same-sex unions, may not simply be equated with marriage.”

This implies:

(i) that “same-sex unions” are one of the “great variety of family situations”

(ii) that “same-sex unions” offer a “certain stability” and

(iii) that “same-sex unions” can be “equated” with marriage on some level, albeit not “simply”.

Furthermore paragraph 52 of Amoris Laetitia states that “only the exclusive and indissoluble union between a man and a woman has a plenary role to play in society as a stable commitment that bears fruit in new life.” To state that only marriage has a “plenary role” essentially means that other forms of union do have some role to play in society.

On 19th September 2016, four cardinals, the Italian Carlo Caffarra, American Raymond Burke and Germans Walter Brandmüller and Joachim Meisner — sent  five questions, called dubia (Latin for “doubts”) to Pope Francis and to Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), on Sept. 19, along with an accompanying letter. The cardinals said their aim was to clarify “contrasting interpretations” of Paragraphs 300-305 in Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia, relating to admission of remarried divorcees to the sacraments, and the Church’s moral teaching.

Dubia are formal questions brought before the Pope and the CDF aimed at eliciting a “Yes” or “No” response, “without theological argumentation.” The practice is a long-standing way of addressing the Apostolic See, geared towards achieving clarity on Church teaching.

In a lecture delivered in 2017 Professor Roberto De Mattei, the distinguished Italian historian, commented powerfully on Pope Francis’s Amoris Laetitia and the dubia issued by the four cardinals the previous year: 

“At Fatima, Our Lady showed the three little shepherds the terrifying vision of hell where the souls of poor sinners go, and it was revealed to Jacinta that it was sins against purity that lead most souls to hell. Who could possibly have imagined one hundred years later that the public profession of impurity would have been added to the immense number of impure sins that are committed, under the form of sexual liberation and the introduction of extramatiral unions, even homosexual, into the laws of the most important nations of the West?

“And who could have ever imagined that a pontifical document – Pope Francis’s Postsynodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, issued on April 8, 2016 – would endorse adultery? The divine and natural law does not admit exceptions. Those who allow the exception destroy the rule. In one of the dubia addressed by the cardinals to the pope we read: “After Amoris Laetitia n. 301, is it still possible to affirm that a person who habitually lives in contradiction to a commandment of God’s law, as for instance the one that prohibits adultery (cf. Mt 19:3 – 9), finds him or herself in an objective situation of grave habitual sin?” The fact that today a doubt of this sort can be presented to the pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith indicates how very grave and deep is the crisis in which the Church is immersed.”

What do Catholic parents do when Popes disagree on sex education, on adultery, on homosexual relationships? 

The answer must surely be that parents must reflect on Catholic doctrine on faith and morals, as revealed in the scriptures, particularly in the Gospel, and as revealed by sacred tradition, that is the teachings of the Apostles, as transmitted faithfully from one generation to the next, at times infallibly, from the time of Christ.

What a blessing it is for parents, then, to hear the words of Christ in St Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 11, verses 25 and 26): “At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou has hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father: for so hath it seemed good in thy sight.”

Parents today are not for the most part theological scholars – and they never have been since the time of Christ. However, countless unlearned, but faithful Catholic parents both know and can confidently affirm, without fear of being contradicted by any authority in this world or the next, that God’s commandment “Honour thy Father and thy Mother”, reaffirmed by God the Son during his life on earth, establishes for all time that parents are the primary educators and protectors of their children.

Faithful, unlearned, Catholic parents are also fully capable of understanding Christ’s words concerning giving scandal to children: “ … he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea”. Catholic parents know, and Catholic fathers in particular must remind their bishops that these words provide a terrible warning to those, including Catholic bishops, who promote the showing of pornographic images in the classroom to children young and old and who allow false ideas about human sexuality, including homosexuality, to be taught in the classroom.

In praying for our bishops this weekend, let me conclude by recalling once more the teaching of the archbishops and bishops of England and Wales in their pastoral letter to be read out in all churches and chapels of England and Wales on the third Sunday after Easter, in 1944:

“To the question whether the method called ‘sexual education’ or even ‘sexual initiation’ could be approved, the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, on 21st March, 1931, replied ‘in the negative’, and directed that ‘the method of educating youth employed by the Church and holy men in the past, and commended by Pope Pius XI in the encyclical on ‘The Christian Education of Youth’, 31st December 1929, must be preserved’. The method commended by the Pope, in the encyclical referred to, is clear. In this extremely delicate matter’ says the Holy Father, ‘if all things considered, some individual instruction is found necessary and opportune from those who hold from God the commission to educate and who the grace of state, every precaution must be taken. Such precautions are well known in traditional Christian education.’ These words, taken in conjunction with the decree of the Holy Office, leave no room to doubt that the Church is opposed to collective or public sex education with or without supposed ‘safeguards’. She teaches that, in place of such methods, of sex education, ‘care must be taken, in the first place, to give a full, firm, and uninterrupted religious instruction to youth of both sexes; that an esteem and desire for and love of the angelic virtue be instilled into them; that they shall be urged, especially, to be instant in prayer, assiduous in the reception of the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist; that they shall cultivate a filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin, Mother of holy purity, and place themselves under her protection; and that they shall carefully avoid dangerous reading, immodest shows, bad company, and all occasions of sin’.

I’m pleased to tell you that Voice of the Family has taken up the challenge to which the Catholic bishops of England and Wales referred in 1944. Voice of the Family aims to help parents “to give a full, firm, and uninterrupted religious instruction to youth of both sexes”. Next month, 13th October, sees the launch of an entire video catechism course filled with sacred art and music so that your family can have the opportunity to be formed by the timeless truths of the Catholic faith.