The organization whose main mission is to promote and defend faithful Catholic education is highly critical of a new sex education program promoted by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family.
In a newly released report, the Cardinal Newman Society says the program, titled The Meeting Point: Course of Affective Sexual Education for Young People, “compromises the innocence and integrity of young people.”
The Newman Society states:
We find that The Meeting Point makes frequent use of sexually explicit and morally objectionable images, fails to clearly identify and explain Catholic doctrine from elemental sources including the Ten Commandments and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and compromises the innocence and integrity of young people under the rightful care of their parents.
With admiration for the work of the Pontifical Council for the Family and confidence in the Church’s authority on faith and morals, we find that The Meeting Point in its present form represents a significant break from the traditional approach to Catholic instruction and learning about human sexuality.
The new curriculum – which is a sex education program for “youth 12 to 16 years of age” – was developed by a group of married couples in Spain, with the support of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference and released online by the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family in July. The program uses the metaphor of “pitching a tent” to describe the construction of one’s life and discusses the importance of laying “the foundations” for the location of one’s pitched tent.
The program’s content is divided into six units – each of which represents one aspect of pitching “the tent.” Each unit provides a series of lessons and also recommends a list of movie scenes “to help the teacher captivate the youth’s attention and further develop the concepts presented in each lesson.”
Among its criticisms of the sex ed program, the Newman Society notes its lack of emphasis on “the sexual sins that pervade our culture – and how young people should respond to these threats.”
The program often fails to use as its foundation for moral law the Ten Commandments, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and sacred scripture, the organization adds, and points to some specific examples to illustrate its concerns:
[T]he “affective” program asks leading questions with minimal guidance, except what may be provided by the teacher or parent who leads the discussion. Without clear reference to the Church’s moral teachings, there is the danger that the student could succumb to relativism and false values.
For example, the Unit 2 lesson “Sex or Sexuality?” includes a group discussion (dividing girls and boys “if possible”) on what the words “sex” and “sexuality” suggest—casually noting that “boys can talk about hooking up, one-night stands, maybe making reference to their genital organs, etc., while the girls can talk more about maternity, pregnancy, falling in love…” The lesson makes no reference to the Church’s moral teaching, and the concepts of sin and chastity are not addressed until later in the program.
The program also presses students into uncomfortable, inappropriate conversations about sex, which the Pontifical Council strongly opposed in The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: “No one should ever be invited, let alone obliged, to act in any way that could objectively offend against modesty or which could subjectively offend against his or her own delicacy or sense of privacy (Sec. 127).”
The Newman Society says the program’s emphasis on emotion (“affective”) and its “use of sexually explicit images” is likely to abandon young people searching for a clear sense of morality on important life issues and decisions.
The Catholic education organization specifically observes that the Unit 5 lesson titled “A Suitable Helper: Morality” contains sexually provocative ads that the program says are “clearly erotic,” and which students are asked to view and discuss. One shows an image of a woman’s breasts represented as fruit with plastic package netting fitted as a bra over the breasts. Another photo depicts a naked man and woman in bed, with the man holding a smartphone as he plays a game. A caption under that photo reads, “The second best thing to do in the dark.”
The Newman Society notes the approach to sex education taken by the program is often at odds with the Pontifical Council’s The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality just two decades ago.
“Catholic parents and educators should not assume that this program in its current form is suitable for a faithful Catholic education simply because of its association with the Pontifical Council for the Family,” the group states, observing that no Vatican official has directed the program’s use in parishes or homes, and that the U.S. bishops have not called for the adoption of the program.
Writing at National Catholic Register, the Newman Society’s president, Patrick Reilly, asserts, “This is not what Catholic families need while facing today’s corrosive culture, which is only getting worse.”
“Such evidence of a declining culture shows why families need to ensure a faithful Catholic education for their children, especially as public schools become increasingly dangerous to the soul,” Reilly adds. “It’s also why Catholic parents should reject any sex education for their children that does not fully conform to Catholic standards and does not have their permission and approval.”