By John Smeaton
The following talk was given at the Voice of the Family conference “Handing on the deposit of the Faith – the mission of the Catholic family today”, held at Newman Hall, University Catholic Chaplaincy, Cardiff, 6-8 September 2019.
We must pray for the Pope, and for Catholic bishops in Britain and elsewhere. Catholic pastors in Britain and in many parts of the world, including in Rome, are supporting programmes of relationships education and sex education in educational institutions which constitute child abuse involving immeasurably greater numbers of young people than the cases of clerical sex abuse currently afflicting the Church.
During a flight to Rome from Panama, last January, Pope Francis told reporters that bishops did not know what to do about the clerical sex abuse scandal. He said: “We felt the responsibility to give … catechesis on this problem to the bishops’ conferences”.
Significantly, the Pope went on to say: “I believe that we must provide sex education in schools”.
Pope Francis then mentioned parents in connection with sex education, butin a somewhat negative way. The Pope said “the ideal” is “to begin at home, with the parents.” But, he added, this is “not always possible,” “The school makes up for this,” he said, adding that if sex education is not provided the “void” will be “filled by any ideology.”
The first thing to say about these words of Pope Francis is that they contrast sharply with the teaching of previous Popes:
Pope Leo XIII taught in encyclical Rerum Novarum 
“ …The contention … that the civil government should at its option intrude into and exercise intimate control over the family and the household is a great and pernicious error…
“Paternal authority can be neither abolished nor absorbed by the State; for it has the same source as human life itself.”
And Pope Pius XI taught in his encyclical Divini Illius Magistri 
“ …Far too common is the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education, falsely imagining they can forearm youths against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, such as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public …”
Which Pope is right? Are Pope Leo XIII and Pope XI right? Or is Pope Francis right when he says: “I believe that we must provide sex education in schools” because, he suggests, there are parents who can’t do it? Is he right when he says that “The school makes up for this” otherwise the “void” will be “filled with any ideology”?
Allow me to reflect on the implications of what Pope Francis said:
Firstly, worldwide experience indicates that school sex education is not confined to the children of parents for whom, in the words of Pope Francis, it’s not possible. School sex education is provided for all children regardless of parental wishes or competence.
Secondly, when Pope Francis says “The school makes up for this” otherwise the “void” will be “filled with any ideology”, His Holiness ignores the fact that both Catholic and non-Catholic schools are currently communicating to children, through their sex education programmes, the ideology of the State and the ideology of the international pro-abortion lobby on matters relating to human sexuality, and His Holiness ignores the fact that both Catholic and non-Catholic schools are currently responsible for communicating images or ideas which represent psychological and spiritual child abuse on a worldwide scale.
In countless Catholic primary schools in England and Wales, for example, children between the ages of seven and nine are being shown the video Living and Growing. The video is a cartoon depicting a naked couple chasing each other around a bed and engaging in sexual intercourse in numerous positions. An adult voice-over explains that sex is fun and makes people happy. A young girl’s voice over exclaims that ‘Yes, they do look very happy’. In this video there is no question of introducing the idea of marriage into the presentation of sexual activity. As Antonia Tully put it, the head of the Safe at School campaign run by the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children:
“Living and Growing puts sexual activity on the same plane as any activity that a seven-year old might normally be involved in. How will children deal with this information: is it a game? a joke? a worry? a fear? How will this affect your child?”
Antonia Tully says that the evidence suggests that boys are likely to understand the information as a game or joke, while girls are likely to become distressed.
Thirdly, the call from Pope Francis for sex education must be evaluated in the context of the Vatican’s own sex education programme called The Meeting Point. A few months after the promulgation of Amoris Laetitia, an apostolic exhortation in which Pope Francis called for sex education in educational institutions, the Pontifical Council for the Family introduced a sex education programme called The Meeting Point at the World Youth Day in Poland in July 2016.
This programme, which is intended to be taught in schools, in mixed classrooms, adopts a secularised and secularising approach, and exposes children to obscene and pornographic images.
Serious questions about the programme have been raised by Dr Rick Fitzgibbons, a psychiatrist and adjunct professor of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, at the Catholic University of America. [He writes:]
“ … in my professional opinion, the most dangerous threat to Catholic youth that I have seen over the past 40 years is the Vatican’s new sexual education program, The Meeting Point: Course of Affective Sexual Education for Young People.
“In a culture in which youth are bombarded by pornography, I was particularly shocked by the images contained in this new sex education program, some of which are clearly pornographic. My immediate professional reaction was that this obscene or pornographic approach abuses youth psychologically and spiritually.
“Youth are also harmed by the failure to warn them of the long-term dangers of promiscuous behaviours and contraceptive use. As a professional who has treated both priest perpetrators and the victims of the abuse crisis in the Church, what I found particularly troubling was that the pornographic images in this program are similar to those used by adult sexual predators of adolescents”.
A fourth consideration arising from Pope Francis’s repeated calls for school-based sex education is the fact that in various parts of the world Catholic bishops and Catholic bishops’ conferences have long been using their power and authority to promote programmes of relationships and sex education the content of which is explicitly anti-life, anti-family and anti-Catholic.
The Catholic Education Service, a department of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, have a long-established approach to sex education which reflects the policies of the pro-abortion lobby, the homosexual lobby and the British Government and which constitutes the sexual abuse and corruption of children.
From 1999 until 2008 the Chair of the Catholic Education Service was Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Birmingham (now Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster). Under his chairmanship the Catholic Education Service developed a policy which resulted in providing children in Catholic schools, including adolescents under the legal age of consent, with access to abortion and contraception services without parental knowledge or consent, through a state run confidential advice agency, named ‘Connexions’.
In April 2010 the Catholic Education Service, under the chairmanship of Malcolm McMahon (then bishop of Nottingham, now Archbishop of Liverpool), appointed as deputy director, Greg Pope, a former Labour member of Parliament, who had an extensive anti-life, anti-family voting record. Greg Pope remained in that post until his promotion, in 2017, to be the Assistant General Secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
In the Spring 2019 edition of Calx Mariae, Dr Tom Rogers, the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children’s education manager, takes up the story of the role of the Catholic bishops of England and Wales and of their agency in England and Wales, the Catholic Education Service, in relation to the Children and Social Work Act (2107). Dr Rogers wrote:
“In March 2017, the Government passed the Children and Social Work Act (2017) which (in England) made the new subjects of Relationships Education compulsory in all primary schools, and Relationships and Sex Education (RSE) compulsory in all secondary schools, including faith and independent schools. It was announced that the required content of these new subjects would be subject to public consultation, although from the outset Government ministers, including the Prime Minster, stated that Relationships Education would be ‘LGBT’ inclusive:  that is, Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual and Transgender inclusive. The Government stated that parents would be able to withdraw their children only from the ‘sex education’ parts of Relationships and Sex Education at secondary school.”
Dr Rogers continued:
“Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, chair of the Catholic Education Service for England and Wales, immediately issued a statement welcoming the Government’s announcement that it was acting to change the law. He said:
‘ … We welcome the Government’s commitment to improving Relationship and Sex Education in all schools. Catholic schools already teach age-appropriate Relationship and Sex Education in both primary and secondary schools …
‘We additionally welcome the Government’s commitment to protect parental right of withdrawal and involve parents in all stages of the development and delivery of RSE in all schools. It is essential that parents fully support the school’s approach to these sensitive matters …’
“Despite the apparently strong statement with regard to parental involvement”, Dr Rogers wrote,
“it is clear that Archbishop McMahon’s statement conforms, not to established Catholic teaching on sex education, but to the new secular orthodoxy and Government policy regarding this area of a child’s learning. The parent is simply granted an ‘involvement’ in the process, because ‘it is essential that parents fully support the school’s approach’. There is no reference in the Archbishop’s statement to the fact that the ‘right of withdrawal’ at this time was only for the ‘Sex Education’ parts of Relationships and Sex Education, and that the Government’s actual distinction between ‘sex education’ and ‘relationships education’ is most unclear.”
Dr Rogers went on:
“In July 2018 the Government issued its Draft Guidance and Regulations regarding the proposed content and delivery of the new subjects, and simultaneously launched a second public consultation on their acceptability. Overall the Government’s Draft Regulations and Guidance seriously undermined parental rights, and presented a completely modern secular view of human sexuality, marriage and the family which was seriously contrary to what the Catholic faith teaches.
“The Government’s guidance made it clear that the children’s programme of study is expected to be ‘LGBT inclusive’ throughout and to present homosexual relationships and family structures in a positive manner. In primary school, children must be made to understand and accept that families ‘sometimes look different from their family, but that they should respect those differences and know that other children’s families are characterised by love and care for them’; and children must be taught that marriage, including same-sex marriage and civil partnerships, represent ‘a formal and legally recognised commitment of two people to each other which is intended to be lifelong.’ In other words, primary school children will have to demonstrate ‘respect’ for the idea and practice of homosexual relationships and not just for the people involved in them, and will be expected to agree that such relationships, including when they have children, are just as valid, positive and beneficial as those based on real marriage.”
Dr Tom Rogers continued:
“In Relationships and Sex Education at secondary school teenagers will be further encouraged to ‘explore’ their developing ‘sexual orientation’ and ‘gender identity’. Dangerous and immoral lifestyle choices are to be presented as equally valid as marriage. Abortion is presented simply as one of the available options during pregnancy and pupils will be signposted to contraceptive and abortion services, without any parental knowledge or consent.
“The right of parents to withdraw their children from the ‘sex education’ parts of RSE, which the Government had promised to retain, was now removed and replaced only by a ‘right to request’ withdrawal, with the final decision going to the head teacher. Even this much compromised parental right is withdrawn altogether when the child reaches 15, when they will be allowed to overrule their parents’, as well as their head teachers’ wishes if they choose, as children are being given the right to have sex education provided to them by the school.”
Dr Rogers went on:
“Following the publication in July 2018 of this appalling Draft Regulations and Guidance, the Catholic Education Service issued another press release, again stating that the Catholic Church ‘welcomes’ the Government’s moves to ‘improve’ Relationships and Sex Education, as well as how ‘the Government had used the Catholic model curriculum as examples of best practice’. The Catholic Education Service also ‘welcomes’ how ‘the recommendations are clear that the right for parents right of withdrawal [sic] will be maintained’, even though the Draft Regulations only allow parents the right to request withdrawal, which the head teacher will have the right to refuse. The Catholic Education Service also welcomed that ‘schools with a religious character’ will be able to deliver Relationship and Sex Education ‘within the tenants [sic] of their own faith’.  However, the Children and Social Work Act (section 34:3 (b)), as well as the Draft Regulations, only stipulate that ‘the education is appropriate having regard to the age and the religious background of the pupils’, which is open to interpretation and a much weaker requirement than such teaching needing to be in line with the ‘tenets’ of a particular faith. OFSTED inspections have interpreted that to mean a school must clearly teach about active homosexuality and transgenderism in a positive light, so that children who may identify themselves by one of the ‘protected characteristics’ do not feel marginalised or discriminated against, and that children are adequately prepared for ‘life in modern Britain’.”
Dr Rogers’ article in Calx Mariae continues:
“A further public consultation (July-Nov 2018) was announced regarding the Draft Regulations and Guidance for the new subjects. However, rather than initiating a campaign to encourage Catholics, and others who attend Catholic schools, to participate in this consultation, so that protections for parents could be genuinely safeguarded, the Catholic Education Service, instead, maintained its public relations campaign in support of Government policy, telling the public that the Government’s proposals were to be welcomed, that there was nothing to worry about, that Catholic schools already do a fantastic job teaching Relationships and Sex Education, and, falsely, that the Government is committed both to allowing faith schools flexibility to teach according to the tenets of their faith, and protecting the parents’ right of withdrawal. 
“The Catholic Education Service, on behalf of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, proclaims its confidence that authentic Catholic Relationships and Sex Education will continue to be taught in Catholic schools, even after 2020; however it is far from clear, judging by some of the recent publications of the Catholic Education Service that it either understands or believes in the perennial teachings of the Catholic Church on the truth and meaning of human sexuality.”
Dr Rogers went on to explain:
“A guide for Catholic educators published by the Bishops of England and Wales in 2017, entitled Learning to Love, offers the following description of homosexual relationships. It states:
‘Here we would like to emphasise that this exalted form of love exists just as powerfully in relationships between people of the same sex as it does in heterosexual relationships. We applaud the great progress that has been made in countering all forms of discrimination against homosexuality in recent times, and wish to collaborate with efforts to make such discrimination obsolete’ (p.17)
Note that we are now talking about ‘discrimination against homosexuality’”, Dr Rogers points out, “as something that should be countered, as opposed to ‘unjust discrimination’ against homosexual persons as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches (2358). ‘Homosexuality’ itself has now been transformed from an ‘inclination, which is objectively disordered’ to what can be an ‘exalted form of love’; and what does it mean ‘to collaborate with efforts to make such discrimination obsolete’? To actively promote the LGBT and Pride agenda? To shut down freedom of speech on the issue and persecute Christians and others who try to speak the truth about homosexuality?”
Dr Rogers continued:
“An even more pernicious document is Made in God’s Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic schools, a joint publication by the Catholic Education Service and St Mary’s University, Twickenham — first published in 2017 and which has even been given a second edition, without any major alterations, despite its deep and scandalous conflicts with the Church’s teaching being widely pointed out by commentators. 
“Under the guise of ‘guidance’ for the ‘pastoral care of pupils’, Made in God’s Image is designed to intimidate Catholic schools into introducing a concerted LGBT indoctrination programme for children, in the form of an eight-lesson scheme of work. An example from the introduction illustrates the strategy being taken:
‘The Church teaches that homosexual persons ‘must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity’ (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2358). The School should be mindful that the Church teaches that homosexual inclinations are not sinful. For older pupils who may publicly identify themselves as such, Church schools should be havens of respect and custodians of the true dignity of each human being. They should be as attentive to the possibility of homosexual pupils being marginalized and bullied as they are to discrimination based on religion, gender, race or disability’”. 
Dr Rogers explained:
“Although the Church does indeed teach that involuntarily experiencing same sex attraction is not itself a sin, the Catechism also adds that the inclination itself is ‘objectively disordered’ (2358), and that authoritative Catholic teaching has also always declared that ‘homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered’, ‘basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity’ (2357). The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith instructed bishops in 1986 that ‘although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder.’ There is no mention of this in the document, or indeed any mention whatsoever of Catholic doctrine on marriage, or any attempt to present the true meaning and purpose of human sexuality between man and woman”.
Dr Rogers’ Calx Mariae article continued:
“Chillingly, Made in God’s Image even offers lesson material which encourages children to judge and challenge their own parents’ and families’ attitudes, based on provided examples of expressions of ‘homophobia’, including typical comments made whilst watching television programmes. It is ironic that a document purported to be concerned with ‘anti-bullying’ engages in a highly pernicious form of bullying against faithful Catholic children and their parents by labelling them ‘homophobes’ and ‘bigots’.
“The Scottish Government has so far gone the furthest in Britain along this trajectory”, Dr Rogers continued, ‘having proudly announced recently that Scotland will become ‘the first country in the world to have lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) inclusive education embedded in the [whole] curriculum’ — not just in relationships and sex education. Naturally if ideological indoctrination is to be truly effective then thought must be controlled at all times, and not just within the confines of certain lessons. Unbelievably this development was also ‘welcomed’ by Scottish Bishops, who added that they hope the “impact of these recommendations will be positive for all.”
You can obtain a full copy of the article by Dr Tom Rogers from Voice of the Family.
What then do Catholic parents do when Popes disagree on sex education and when bishops throughout Britain promote programmes of relationships and sex education which threaten to corrupt their children?
What a blessing it is for parents, then, to hear the words of Christ in St Matthew’s Gospel (Chapter 11, verses 25 and 26): “At that time Jesus answered and said: I confess to thee, O Father, Lord of Heaven and Earth, because thou has hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them to little ones. Yea, Father: for so hath it seemed good in thy sight.”
Parents today are not for the most part theological scholars – and they never have been since the time of Christ. However, countless unlearned, but faithful Catholic parents both know and can confidently affirm, without fear of being contradicted by any authority in this world or the next, that God’s commandment “Honour thy Father and thy Mother”, reaffirmed by God the Son during his life on earth, establishes for all time that parents are the primary educators and protectors of their children.
Faithful, unlearned, Catholic parents are also fully capable of understanding Christ’s words concerning giving scandal to children: “ … he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea”. Catholic parents know, but must be reminded, that these words provide a terrible warning to those, including Catholic bishops, who allow the showing of pornographic images in the classroom to children of all ages and who encourage false ideas about human sexuality, including homosexuality, to be taught in the classroom.
Catholic parents have a moral obligation to resist Pope Francis’s and British Catholic bishops’ promotion of dangerous teaching on sex education. It will add fuel to the raging fire of child abuse. Parents must say loud and clear to Pope Francis, and to Catholic bishops in Britain: Sex education is not the solution to systematic child abuse and exploitation. Indeed, what the Vatican, the bishops of England and Wales and many other bishops around the world are promoting is child abuse, in the name of relationships and sex education, involving immeasurably greater numbers than the scandal of the cases of clerical sex abuse currently afflicting the Church.
 Issued on 15th May 1891.
 Issued on 31st December 1929.
 For instance, Nick Gibb MP, stated in response to a Parliamentary question (03 July 2017) that ‘we expect schools to ensure that all pupils, whatever their developing sexuality or gender identity, feel that relationships and sex education is relevant to them and sensitive to their needs. As part of our engagement programme, we will consider ways to ensure that our guidance and regulations are inclusive of LGBT issues. We plan to work closely with organisations such as Stonewall and the Terrence Higgins Trust, amongst others’. Prime Minister Teresa May affirmed her support for ‘LGBT inclusive’ RSE in English schools in her speech at the Pink News LGBT Awards 2017.
 Catholic Education Service, ‘Catholic Church welcomes move to improve Relationship and Sex Education in all schools’, Press Release, 19 July 2018: http://catholiceducation.org.uk/component/k2/item/1003657-catholic-church-welcomes-move-to-improve-relationship-and-sex-education-in-all-schools
 Catherine Bryan, ‘Why Relationship and Sex Education is a must for all Catholic schools’ [online article], Catholic Education Service, 20 June 2018; http://www.catholiceducation.org.uk/component/k2/item/1003652-why-relationship-and-sex-education-is-a-must-for-all-catholic-schools . The same article also appeared in The Catholic Times, 15 June 2018, p.28.
 Catholic Education Service, Made in God’s Image: Challenging homophobic and biphobic bullying in Catholic schools, 2018 edn; http://catholiceducation.org.uk/images/CES-Project_Homophobic-Bullying-Booklet_JUN18_PROOF-9.pdf . For comment see, for instance, Deacon Nick Donnelly, ‘UK bishops’ group pushing radical LGBT propaganda in Catholic schools’, Lifesite News, 18 May 2017; https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/uk-bishops-group-pushes-radical-lgbt-materials-in-catholic-schools. Also, Bishop Egan of Portsmouth has commented on the ‘ideological colonisation’ at work in our schools, including the influence of Stonewall and LGBT Youth on the CES’s Made in God’s Image document. Deacon Nick Donnelly, ‘Interview: UK bishop questions LGBT involvement in Catholic schools’ sex-ed program’, Lifesite News, 22 May 2017; https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/interview-english-bishop-questions-lgbt-involvement-in-catholic-schools-sex
 CES, Made in God’s Image (2018), section 2, p.5.
 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (signed by Cardinal Ratzinger), ‘Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of the Homosexual Persons’, 1 October 1986; http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_19861001_homosexual-persons_en.html
 Scottish Government, ‘LGBTI education: Scotland will lead the way in inclusive education’, Press release 8th Nov 2018; https://www.gov.scot/news/lgbti-education/