On the 19th October (2016), I wrote about my reaction to the Assembly of Catholic Bishops of Ontario (ACBO)-sponsored family life education program, called Fully Alive (http://acbo.on.ca/fully-alive/). The ACBO web site describes Fully Alive as:
… intended to pass on a distinctively Catholic view of human life, sexuality, marriage, and family. Its goal is to complement the efforts of families and to support what parents are doing at home. The entire program, from Grades 1 through Grade 8 is designed to encourage children to become the people God wants them to be (ACBO, 2014, para. 3).
If you read that post, you’ll understand that I wasn’t too impressed, but I also said that at least one aspect required some more detailed consideration.
At grade 8, in level three of this program, the letter home to parents states, “[w]e will also reflect on homosexuality from the perspective of God’s plan for sexuality” (ACBO, 2011). I said I found this statement worrying, not least due to all of the reasons I outlined in that post, but for the additional reasons I’ll describe below.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC)
The catechism of the catholic church (Latin: catechismus catholicae ecclesiae) (Vatican, 2003), was first published during the papacy of John Paul II in 1992, and is the summary statement of the beliefs of those that follow the catholic church; and chapter two, article six of the catechism has this to say with regard to homosexuality:
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT
II. The Vocation to Chastity
Chastity and homosexuality
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.” They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of selfmastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection. (Vatican, 2003, para. 2357-2359)
The take home message of the catholic church thus comes in several parts…
- the catholic church doesn’t seem to acknowledge any other variants of human sexuality, other than hetero- or homosexuality;
- homosexuality is a psychological issue
- homosexual acts are acts of great depravity, intrinsically disordered, and contrary to the natural law
- the church can never approve of homosexual activity
- anybody identifying as homosexual should be treated with respect, compassion and sensitivity
- anybody self-identifying as homosexual must never actually have sex with someone of the same gender—they must remain chaste—by virtue of selfmastery, in order to approach Christian perfection.
In My Opinion
The very notion that an organization espousing such dark-age bile—which has absolutely no place in any modern education system—should infuriate anybody of a rational mind. Why on Earth are we allowing these people to peddle this offensive garbage? And why do I allow my daughter to attend these classes?
I’m getting to my reasoning for subjecting her to this toxic drivel, bear with me please.
The CCC in Practice
The instructions of the catechism were reinforced by the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops (OCCB), in their document, Pastoral Guidelines to Assist Students of Same-Sex Orientation:
The Church’s Teaching on Homosexuality
In Catholic education, students should be brought to an understanding of a loving God who gives to them (as to all of us) a dignity beyond our imagining.
It is in this context that the teaching of the Church on the morality of homosexual orientation and homosexual activity is presented, and within the context of moral teaching on sexuality and marriage generally.
The Church’s general teaching on homosexuality is summed up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. An irreversible homosexual orientation is not sinful, since it is not sought by homosexual persons. A tendency, desire or inclination are not choices and are therefore not wrong in themselves. There is a real difference between sexual desire and the decision to act on it. The Church makes a critical distinction between orientation, and conduct or behaviour. The Church clearly teaches that homosexual acts are immoral. Included under homosexual acts are genital sexual activity and erotic relational behaviour with a person of the same sex.
Thus, romantic behaviour between homosexual persons is morally unacceptable, because it points toward future sexual relationships that are non-marital. Romantic behaviour is not confined to a set of defined activities. It is a description of one-to-one relational behaviour which involves sexual attraction. Romantic behaviour is quite different from the behaviour of simple friendship. (OCCB, 2004, p. 4)
An (Personal) Opinion Piece
The fact that the catholic church of the early twenty-first century deems it appropriate that it should advise anybody on what is right or wrong behaviour, following a litany of proven cases of child-rape perpetrated by their own priests and other members, conspiracies to withhold relevant information from prosecuting authorities, and a complete inability to even acknowledge the issue in an appropriate manner (Burkett, 1993; Carroll et al., 2002; Gallen, 2016; Keenan, 2013; Terry et al., 2011; Terry, 2015; UNCRC, 2014) is stunning in and of itself; and that evidence notwithstanding any other charges of malfeasance regarding its positions on human rights—issues such as abortion, contraception, and the rights of women for example. The outrageous hypocrisy referred to by that previous statement alone defies belief; and should be more than enough for any government body to relegate a sexual education curriculum designed by such an organization, to the flames of policy purgatory.
The OCCB thus interprets the teachings of the church to mean that—for practical pastoral care of a child—a homosexual orientation is not sinful by itself, since a desire is not actively sought out by the person concerned. But the decision to act on that desire, is “clearly immoral” (p. 4), and any romantic behaviour between “homosexual persons is morally unacceptable” (p. 4). Once again I wonder why, in an early twenty-first century society, we can permit such poisonous, self-contradictory, ignorant nonsense to masquerade as legitimate education in an elementary school.
Why is my Daughter Enrolled in the Catholic Education System?
As I’ve said elsewhere, I have respect for the teaching staff of my daughter’s school, even though it may be a member of a catholic school board. The teaching staff are ultimately the voice in the classroom. They interpret curriculum and deliver it to their students. And despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary, I have faith in people. That most people are fundamentally fair, honest and good individuals. Even if the organizations to which they must adhere have become corrupt, self-serving and outdated institutions. I believe that the individuals that teach my daughter will strive to give her a fair representation of life and love.
And if they don’t, if for some reason the worst of the lies and poison of ACBO’s loathsome curriculum make it to my daughter’s ears, then I have faith in her. She asks questions at home, and she’ll hear the views I express here. She’ll be encouraged to challenge, and never accept anything without evidence. If she wants to sit back and ignore the ignorance for the sake of a quiet life, then so be it, but if she wants to stand her ground, then I’ll hold her hand no matter what is said and done. In closing, I’m going to paraphrase what could have been an ancient religious teaching, but has also been used and abused by politicians and others over the years, the only thing necessary for the triumph of wickedness and ignorance, is that decent, rational human beings do nothing. I can’t do very much, but this is a start.