Parents are the primary educators of their children

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New Voice of the Family logoBelow is a statement by Voice of the Family being delivered at our press conference in Rome this morning, which is also being addressed by His Eminence Raymond Cardinal Burke:

Paragraph 86 of the Instrumentum Laboris, the basis of the work of the Ordinary Synod, states that “the family, while maintaining its privileged spot in education, cannot be the only place for teaching sexuality”.

In 17 words in the English text, and in particular the word “cannot”, the Vatican authorities who drafted the Instrumentum Laboris, cast aside the natural law, Catholic doctrine, and the UN Declaration of Human Rights. In so doing, they consign the family, the domestic church, both parents and children, to the mercy of the secular powers, the wolves, who are intent on devouring them.

In expressing this opinion, the Catholic laity who lead Voice of the Family do so to fulfil our responsibility outlined in Canon 212 of the Code of Canon Law:

According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they [the Christian faithful] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.[1]

There is an unequivocal determination on the part of the world’s most powerful politicians and UN officials to destroy parental rights regarding their children’s education and formation.

A few months after Barack Obama first became the US president it was confirmed that his administration would be promoting legalised abortion throughout the world, targeting adolescents, without reference to parents, in a worldwide abortion drive.

Despite the fact that Article 26 (3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights says “Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children” powerful bodies such as the UN’s Compliance Committee for the Convention on the Rights of the Child are putting pressure on developing nations, particularly African nations, to give children from 12 years old access to contraception and abortion. They do so by resorting to the false argument that a child’s right to health requires States to legalise access to contraception and abortion, for children as young as 12, and without the knowledge of parents.

In addition UNESCO and the World Health Organisation together with powerful western nations and non-governmental organisations are promoting anti-life and pornographic sex education programmes which seek to eliminate the role of parents as the primary educators and protectors of their children.

The freedom of parents to fulfil their role as the primary educators of their children in sexual matters is under severe threat worldwide due to sex education pushed by UN agencies, IPPF and other bodies. In 2011, at the Commission on the Status of Women at the UN in New York, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Population Council and other pro-abortion groups held a meeting to launch worldwide a massive programme of so-called comprehensive sex education entitled: It’s All One Curriculum:

Through this programme these powerful NGOs funded by governments worldwide are telling teachers of young children that sexual self-abuse is a human right. They say:

“Sexuality may be expressed by oneself … Sexuality — expressed alone…can be a source of pleasure and meaning in life. (p.84) “ … Masturbation is an important way that people learn about their bodies and sexuality … Masturbation is a safe sexual behavior. It is neither physically nor mentally harmful.” (p.99)

Parents of families in western nations are also denied the right to control sex education in their children’s schools, including in Catholic schools. In England and Wales, for example, young people have access to contraception and abortion without the knowledge of their parents, including in Catholic schools with the authority of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales. In addition, teachers in British primary schools are being trained by “Stonewall”, a militant homosexual “rights” group which has a policy that little boys must be taught that they might grow up to marry a man, and that little girls must be taught that they might grow up to marry a woman. Training by Stonewall for teachers is also happening in Catholic primary schools with the co-operation of the local Catholic authorities.

Going back to paragraph 86 of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Ordinary Synod on the Family: It contains a direct attack on the rights of parents. The paragraph states that “the family, while maintaining its privileged spot in education, cannot be the only place for teaching sexuality.” This statement is directly contrary to Catholic teaching which affirms the right and duty of parents to be the first and foremost providers of education to their children in sexual matters.

Paragraph 86 of the Instrumentum Laboris leaves parents and children at the mercy of the International Planned Parenthood Federation and other similar organisations. It is not only parents and children in developing nations, which are dependent on the aid of powerful western governments, who are at risk, but also families, including Catholic families, in western nations.

How is it possible that the Synod authorities can be so blind to the spiritual dangers and to the danger to the lives and welfare of parents and children, both inside and outside of the Church?

Voice of the Family considers that one of the most gravely concerning elements of the Instrumentum Laboris is the neglect of an adequate discussion of sin, even when discussing objectively sinful practices. If divorced and civilly remarried Catholics are admitted to the sacraments, there is no reason for cohabiting couples or even couples of the same sex not to receive the sacraments. This will inevitably lead to destruction of the natural moral law and the notion of sin. There is a serious failure to identify and condemn the structures of sin being established throughout the world which tend towards the corruption of children. How can Catholic parents bring up their children in faith, how do they protect them from immoral, degrading sex education programmes and the delivery of the so-called confidential service of contraception and abortion to children as young as 12 years old if there is no concept of sin? The failure to identify these real threats facing the family further undermines the freedom of parents to fulfil their role as primary educators.

The words of Christ in the Gospel of Luke, chapter 11, verses 33-34, come to mind in this grievous element of the Instrumentum Laboris as well as others:

“The light of thy body is thy eye. If thy eye be single, thy whole body will be lightsome: but if it be evil, thy body also will be darksome. Take heed therefore, that the light which is in thee, be not darkness.”

Pope John Paul II repeated the constant teaching of the church in Familiaris Consortio when he said in section 37:

“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”.

Catholic teaching which is opposed by the drafters of the Instrumentum Laboris is, however, supported by the UN Declaration of Human Rights.

The distinguished US attorney and bioethicist, William L. Saunders Jnr, explains how the Universal Declaration of Human Rights upholds parents as the primary educators of their children. He says: [quote] … article 26(3) recognizes that parents are the primary educators of their children. ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children’ [the article states]. Article 26 recognizes the priority of the wishes of parents regarding the education of their own children over any designs of the state

William Saunders underlines the historical significance of the Universal Declaration’s insistence on parents as the primary educators of their children by citing Mary Ann Glendon, Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and former US ambassador to the Holy See, and former President of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences.   In her authoritative book on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights A World Made New Mary Ann Glendon writes:

“In the article on education [26]…[the drafting committee for the Declaration] made an important change, influenced directly by recollections of the National Socialist regime’s efforts to turn Germany’s renowned educational system into a mechanism for indoctrinating the young with the government’s program…. [A]fter Beaufort of the Netherlands recalled the ways in which German schools had been used to undermine the role of parents, a third paragraph was added: ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.’”

“In other words” William Saunders comments [quote] “one of the most important lessons drawn by the framers of the Declaration from the experience of the Second World War was that parental choice in education is a fundamental plank of international peace and security”.

Tragically, nearly 70 years on from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the terrors of the Second World War, it seems that this lesson has not been learned, not least by the Catholic Church authorities who drafted the Instrumentum Laboris for the Family Synod

Voice of the Family, therefore, calls on Synod Fathers at the Family Synod to assert the rights of parents to be the primary educators of their children and to take immediate steps to defend parents and children against all violations of this right, which are becoming ever more pressing and grave including in Catholic institutions.

Paragraph 86 must not be approved in its current form. Any document which undermines parental rights in any way must be resisted by all Catholics, and by all men and women of good will.

[1] Code of Canon Law, Canon 212 §3.