Voice of the Family’s recently published analysis of the instrumentum laboris of the Ordinary Synod drew attention to the direct attack on parental rights contained in the document. The instrumentum laboris, published in June by the General Secretariat of the Synod (headed by Cardinal Baldisseri, above), will act as the agenda for the Ordinary Synod.
Paragraph 86 of instrumentum laboris states that “the family, while maintaining its privileged spot in education, cannot be the only place for teaching sexuality”. This statement is contrary to Catholic teaching, which affirms the right and duty of parents to be the first and foremost providers of education to their children. The exercise and defence of this right is particularly important in sexual matters. Parents are entirely capable of performing this task by themselves and it is entirely their choice if they wish to involve others.
In his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio Pope John Paul II taught:
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.
The pressing nature of this issue has been highlighted again yesterday by demands by British Member of Parliament Yvette Cooper that sex education should be compulsory for all children aged seven and over. The Labour party, of which Cooper is a member, has a track record of trying to introduce compulsory anti-life, anti-family sex education.
The 2010 Children, Schools and Families Bill included clause which would have removed the right of parents to withdraw their children from sex education lessons and would have forced all state-maintained schools, including Catholic schools, to teach a sex education programme to children aged between 5 and 16. The bill, if these clauses had been enacted, would have led to pressure on schools to link sex and relationships education to contraception and abortion services
These clauses were defeated after vigorous campaigning by pro-life groups and after three Catholic bishops, more than one hundred Catholic priests, and one hundred head teachers and school governors signed a letter published in the Daily Telegraph.
Unfortunately these clauses in the legislation were supported by the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, who will be attending the Ordinary Synod on the Family in October 2015. Nichols has a track record of dissent from Catholic teaching on homosexuality and has expressed his openness to the proposal of Cardinal Kasper that the “divorced and remarried” can be admitted to Holy Communion without amendment of life.
Concerns that Cardinal Nichols supports compulsory sex education for primary school children were first raised by pro-life activists and concerned Catholics back in 2010 when the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families, Ed Balls, publicly stated that he was pleased to have Archbishop Nichols’ backing for the compulsory sex education clauses in the Children, Schools and Families Bill.
Vincent Nichols, who was at that time Archbishop of Birmingham, spoke of the new law on a local radio station and claimed, “We have secured the right that sex and relationships education in a Catholic school will be presented in a way that’s consistent with Catholic teaching.”
However the Minister, Ed Balls, said that once the bill was passed Catholic schools would have to tell children how to access an abortion and teach that homosexuality was “normal and harmless.” A statement from the Department for Children, Schools and Families asserted, “Faith schools cannot opt out of statutory lessons when [the bill] comes into effect in September 2011.” The statement continued: “All maintained schools and academies will be required to teach the full programmes of study in line with the principles outlined in the Bill including promoting equality and encouraging acceptance of diversity. Schools with a religious character will be free, as they are now, to express the views of their faith and reflect the ethos of their school, but what they cannot do is suggest that their views are the only ones.”
During a debate in the House of Lords on January 28 2014, Lord Knight, a former minister in the Department for Children, Schools and Families, recalled his “very good conversations with Vincent Nichols” on the subject of compulsory sex education and welcomed his appointment as a Cardinal.
Lord Knight he House of Lords informed Parliament that representatives of the UK’s Catholic Education Service had been part of a government “expert group” which “achieved consensus around the need for compulsory sex and relationship education.” The Catholic Education Service is an official body of the Catholic Bishops Conference of England and Wales. The CES, whose deputy director is Greg Pope a politician who supports abortion, contraception, homosexual unions, sex education and euthanasia by neglect, has long been considered by orthodox Catholics to have worked against the interests of parents and children, including cooperation in abortion.
During his tenure as Archbishop of Birmingham, Nichols had himself introduced a sex education program into the archdiocese that includes computer-generated images of naked men and women. The program, called ‘All that I Am,’ is aimed at children below the age of 11 and was produced by the Diocesan Department of Religious Education, which received funding for the program from the government’s Teenage Pregnancy Unit. Nichols’ name and title appear prominently in the credits.
Attacks on parental rights are already on the agenda of the Ordinary Synod. The presence of prelates such as Vincent Nichols should be deeply disturbing for all parents who wish to protect their children from the ravages of the sexual revolution. Any weakening of the Church’s stance on parental rights will be a betrayal of all those parents fighting to protect their right to educate their children according to the Catholic faith and the natural law.
It has never been more necessary for Catholic laity and orthodox prelates to work together to protect children and families from destructive forces at work in the Church and in the state.