(Editor’s note: The following sage advice was given by Dr. Thomas Ward of England, the founder of the Association of Catholic Families and former member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. It was first delivered at a 2016 conference in Budapest.)
April 28, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — My dear fellow parents and grandparents, my main concern is to help you to make every effort to prevent your children and grandchildren becoming victims of the dominant culture of death. This sadly is not an uncommon outcome among brave parents who work tirelessly for life and the family.
As a father of six, a grandfather of 16, as a family doctor and as a founder of an association of Catholic families, I would like to make a number of points based on experience and on the unchanging wisdom of the Church.
Firstly and most importantly, young people should be encouraged to intensify their spiritual lives and not be afraid to give witness to their faith.
There is no adequate substitute for authentic parental love and nothing moves children to love more than knowing that they are loved.
Mothers who value their maternal vocation and their importance in the home greatly help develop the qualities of femininity and motherhood in their daughters and set a clear, strong and attractive example of womanhood for their sons.
Fathers whose behavior is inspired by masculine dignity are a model for their sons, and they inspire respect, admiration and very importantly security in their daughters.
Your example as Christian parents is irreplaceable.
Children are your most important task — more important than work, entertainment, social position and pro-family work.
Each child is unique with a different rate of maturation.
The tranquillity of the years of innocence should not be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex. However, it may well be increasingly necessary for you to correct immoral and factually wrong material coming from their peers, the media and classroom sex classes.
Children quite naturally absorb sound attitudes on love and marriage without their parents even noticing.
You must give each child individual formation on sexuality and only parents are in a position to know what should be provided, when to provide it and how.
An essential aspect of this education is modesty and chastity.
Parents who educate their children in modesty and chastity can be certain that they are helping their children in turn to build stable and united families.
Conversely, parents who do not give adequate formation in modesty and chastity are failing in their duty to educate.
Likewise, they would also be guilty were they to tolerate immoral formation being given to their children outside the home.
Fundamental to these points is the fact that the parents themselves must practice chastity and modesty in the home.
It is important to teach older children that the procreative and unitive aspects of the conjugal act cannot be artificially separated without damaging the deepest truth of the conjugal act itself.
Parents who themselves contracept can not legitimately expect their children to practice chastity.
Humanae Vitae, the Encyclical of Pope Paul VI, is fundamental to your marriage and to your family. You must read and live it.
Associations of families which provide mutual support to one another and are a living family catechesis of the authentic Magisterium are essential for the survival of Catholic families in today's world of aggressive paganism and ecclesial decay.
Schools must always give adequate notice of sexual instruction classes to which parents must be invited to opt into and never to opt out of.
Parents should politely and very firmly exclude their children from any classes that may damage their child’s innocence. This is particularly true when the material used is provided by birth control and homosexualist organisations.
Bishops and priests
It is no longer acceptable for bishops to ignore or indeed oppose parents when they rightly complain about so-called sex education in Catholic schools. Not only the souls of the children entrusted to the bishops but also their own souls are at serious risk.
The following are Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan's 12 points on bringing up children in a totalitarian anti-family state:
1. See persecution as a grace which strengthens.
2. Root your faith in the Catechism.
3. Your first duty is to Catechize your children.
4. Protect your family’s integrity above all else.
5. Pray daily with your children the litanies and the Rosary.
6. Make your home a domestic church.
7. Withdraw your family from a parish spreading error and attend a faithful parish, even if you have to travel far.
8. Withdraw your children from school if they are encountering immoral danger of sex education.
9. If you cannot withdraw your children, establish a coalition of parents to fight for that right.
10. Fight for parental rights using available democratic tools.
11. In the absence Sunday Mass make spiritual communions.
12. Be prepared for persecution in protecting your children.