Catholic school sex education resource says men are ‘initiators’ and women are ‘receivers’

By Will Hazell

A Catholic relationship and sex education programme being used in UK schools says that contraception is “wrong” and suggests gay people should abstain from sex

Faith-based sex education resources which say men were “created to be the initiator in sexual relationships” and that women act as “receiver-responders” are being used in UK schools, i can reveal.

The resources, which form part of a Catholic relationships and sex education programme called A Fertile Heart, also say that contraception is “wrong” and suggests that gay people should abstain from sex.

A Fertile Heart was produced by a group of priests from the dioceses of Birmingham, Cardiff, Clifton and Shrewsbury, and has been approved by the Archbishop of Birmingham.

The programme was piloted in 43 primary and thirteen secondary schools in the Archdiocese of Cardiff, but is also being taught in at least one school in England.

‘Receiver-responder’

One chapter seen by i advocates “complementarity” – the idea that men and women were designed to have specific roles, particularly in sex and relationships.

It suggests that “within a romantic relationship between male and female, masculinity is more about initiating”, whereas “femininity is more about receiving and responding”. “Looking at things biologically, it does appear that man has been created to be the initiator in sexual relationships, and woman the receiver-responder”.

Discussing wider differences between the sexes, it says that “many couples find the woman tends to be better at communicating her emotions, whereas the man is sometimes better at knowing when to move on from such analysis”.

Gay marriage not ‘real’

The resources say that homosexuality should be treated with “sensitivity”, but adds: “We cannot deny the objective reality of sex being directed towards procreation and family, nor the link between this and marriage, commitment and parenthood.”

It links to a YouTube video featuring the American Catholic campaigner Jason Evert, who argues that gay people cannot have “real” marriage and should abstain from sex.

The resources cite the hormone oxytocin as a biological reason why “a woman tends to find it more difficult to enter uncommitted sexual relationships and is prone to suffer mentally and emotionally if sexual relationships fail”.

Pupils are told that the Church is clear that “all artificial contraception” is “wrong” and that “the pill bulldozes through and prevents the young woman understanding her fertility and femininity”.

A suggested lesson activity says pupils should discuss “whether contraception has truly liberated women, or actually made them more ‘available’ and vulnerable to being used”.

Dr Ruth Wareham, education campaigns manager at Humanists UK, said: ‘All the best evidence shows that outdated abstinence-based models of sex education like that peddled by A Fertile Heart don’t work and can even have a negative impact on sexual health outcomes”.

She said the resources used “pseudoscience and half-truths to back up its flimsy arguments”, and had “no place being taught in schools”.

‘Open to misinterpretation’

A spokesman for A Fertile Heart told i the programme was “designed primarily though not exclusively as a resource for Catholic schools”, and that the current revised edition was “in full conformity with the Church’s moral teaching” and had the “endorsement and active support of several Catholic bishops”.

The spokesman said that some paragraphs in an earlier textbook “were open to misinterpretation” and had been subsequently “edited”. The reference to men being initiators was “not speaking in terms of who decides whether sex happens or how”, but was about the the marital relationship of “mutual love and respect”. He said the reference to the effect of oxytocin was “written in the light of current research”.

On fertility, he added: “At a time when adolescents, especially female adolescents are getting attuned to the significant changes in their bodies, and learning to ‘read’ them, the claim that there is a potential risk that the Pill bulldozes through and inhibits a young woman understanding her fertility properly is a valid one not least as hormonal contraception can cause depression and high anxiety levels particularly in young girls.”

What the Government guidance says

In November, the Labour MP Stella Creasy asked the Government whether the material published by A Fertile Heart was permitted to be used for relationship and sex education (RSE). The schools minister Nick Gibb said it was “for schools to decide which resources they choose”. He did not directly criticise A Fertile Heart, but said that “schools should not work with agencies that take extreme positions, and this should also be reflected in the school’s choice of resources”.

The Department for Education’s guidance on RSE says schools should be “alive to issues such as everyday sexism, misogyny, homophobia and gender stereotypes and take positive action to build a culture where these are not tolerated”. It says that by the end of secondary school students should be given “the facts about the full range of contraceptive choices, efficacy and options available”.

It says religious schools “may teach the distinctive faith perspectives on relationships, and balanced debate may take place about issues that are seen as contentious”.

Humanists UK said the Government should “remove the faith-based carve-outs to the law on RSE”.

Complete Article HERE!

The Catholic Church is bursting with secrets. Investigating one will unravel them all.

Pope Francis in Rome on Feb. 14.

By Garry Wills

The New York Times published an extraordinary article this week based on interviews with two dozen gay Catholic priests and seminarians in 13 states. “Out” men and women today are often widely admired, but most of the interviews had to be conducted anonymously because the Vatican still treats homosexuality as “objectively disordered” — a policy that persists even though the representation of gay men in the priesthood is higher, probably far higher, than in the general population.

The relevant catechism about sexuality does not condemn people with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies,” just those who act on those tendencies. In other words, you can be gay so long as you don’t do anything about it. The Times article rightly presents this distinction as a trial for the priests involved — one of the last major throwbacks to the era of “the love that dare not speak its name” (as Oscar Wilde’s partner, Lord Alfred Douglas, put it). But I wondered how the church’s policy on homosexuality affects men and women, as well as boys and girls, who are not priests.

The gay priest is required, generally, to uphold the official teaching of his church and of his superiors, making him a collaborator in the suppression of his gay brothers and sisters outside the clergy. In this way, without intending to, the victimized become victimizers. How does that play out, to take an example, in the confessional? If a penitent confesses homosexual activity to a gay priest, does the priest channel God’s forgiveness of a sin that he does not himself consider a sin? This is just one of the many ways in which we Catholics, if we refrain from criticizing this particular stance of our church, contribute to the persecution of the LGBTQ community.

The deepest irony is that a priest who is required to go against his nature is told that he must do this because of “natural law.” The church’s quaint theory of natural law is that the first biological use of an activity is the only permissible use of that activity. If the biological use of sex is for procreation, any other use is “against nature.”

The absurdity of this view is made clear by considering the first biological use for eating: the sustenance of life. If every other use of nutrition is against nature, then any diet beyond what is consumed for life-maintenance is a sin — in other words, no wedding cakes, no champagne toasts. Yet the church continues to adhere to so-called natural law because it underpins doctrine on all sexual matters, including the condemnations of abortion, contraception, in vitro fertilization and stem-cell research.

Given the stakes in these and other matters, the ban on gay sex involves a larger “church teaching” than the single matter of homosexuality.

Priests and bishops who cover up male homosexuality are prone to a mutual blackmail with those who commit and conceal heterosexual acts by the clergy — sometimes involving women, including nuns, who have been victimized by priests. The Times’s portrait of gay priests was followed by a powerful Feb. 18 article revealing that the church has internal policies for dealing with priests who father children. The Vatican confirmed, apparently for the first time, that a priest with progeny is encouraged to ask for release from his ministry “to assume his responsibilities as a parent by devoting himself exclusively to the child” — there being no requirement in canon law that a priest perform this basic act of love for his offspring and the child’s mother.

Secrecy in one clerical area intersects with secrecy in others. There is an implicit pledge that “your secret is safe with my secret.” If there are gay nuns — and why would there not be? — that adds another strand to the interweavings of concealment.

The trouble with any culture that maintains layer upon layer of deflected inspections is that, when so many people are guarding their own secrets, the deep examination of an institution becomes nearly impossible. The secrecies are too interdependent. Truly opening one realm of secrecy and addressing it may lead to an implosion of the entire system. That is the real problem faced this week by Pope Francis and the church leaders he has summoned from around the world for a conference at the Vatican to consider the labyrinthine and long-standing scandals of clerical sex abuse.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic Leaders Say Zika Doesn’t Change Ban on Contraception

Zika

As the Zika virus spreads in Latin America, Catholic leaders are warning women against using contraceptives or having abortions, even as health officials in some countries are advising women not to get pregnant because of the risk of birth defects.

The challenge posed by Zika for the Roman Catholic Church comes as Pope Francis is making his first trip to Mexico, where the virus appears to be spreading.

After a period of saying little, bishops in Latin America are beginning to speak up and reassert the church’s opposition to birth control and abortion — positions that in Latin America are unpopular and often disregarded, even among Catholics.

“Contraceptives are not a solution,” said Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, the secretary general of the National Council of Bishops of Brazil, and an auxiliary bishop of Brasília, in an interview. “There is not a single change in the church’s position.”

He urged couples to practice chastity or use “natural family planning,” a method in which women monitor their menstrual cycles and abstain from sex when they are fertile.

This is not a stance likely to win many new followers. South America happens to be the continent with the highest proportion of Catholics who already disagree with the church on abortion and birth control, according to a large international poll commissioned by Univision in 2014. Seventy-three percent of Catholics in Latin America said that abortion should be allowed in some or all cases, and 91 percent supported the use of contraceptives — a higher percentage even than in Europe or the United States.

While church leaders frequently say that doctrine is not determined by polls or popularity contests, they are nevertheless sensitive to counts of their flock. And the Catholic Church has been losing adherents in Latin America in recent decades as people leave to join evangelical and Pentecostal churches, or reject religion entirely.

Nearly 70 percent of adults in Latin America still identify as Catholic, but that is down from 94 percent in 1950, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. Much of the fall-off has occurred in just the last generation.

No Vatican department has yet issued a statement about the Zika issue, and it is not clear whether Pope Francis will address it during his trip to Mexico, where he will be until Thursday, said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, the English-language media attaché to the Vatican’s press office.

“The Vatican is very well aware of the seriousness of this issue, and the Holy Father is very aware of it,” Father Rosica said. “We’re waiting to see how the local churches in those countries respond.”

But Father Rosica said church teaching on abortion and contraception remains the same. The Zika epidemic, he said, presents “an opportunity for the church to recommit itself to the dignity and sacredness of life, even in very precarious moments like this.”

The five countries in Latin America and the Caribbean that have advised women to delay pregnancy are Brazil, Ecuador, El Salvador, Colombia and Jamaica. But access to contraception is limited throughout the region, especially for poor and rural women. Abortion is restricted in many countries, and it is illegal without exceptions in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Nicaragua, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The Zika virus is spread by mosquitoes of the Aedes genus, but researchers have found some cases transmitted by sexual contact. Experts are not yet sure whether Zika is the cause of a sudden surge in babies born in Brazil with microcephaly — unusually small heads and, often, damaged brains. Microcephaly could lead to serious disabilities — but not always.

There is no vaccine for the Zika virus, and no cure for microcephaly. The World Health Organization this month declared the Zika epidemic an international public health emergency. The organization advised that women should have full access to a range of contraceptive options, as well as “safe abortion services to the full extent of the law.”

Many church officials are wary that the Zika epidemic will lead to the loosening of laws on abortion and contraception. Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras, who serves on Pope Francis’ nine-member advisory council, denounced the notion of “therapeutic abortions” for women carrying babies with microcephaly. He spoke at a Mass attended by the Honduran president and first lady.

“Therapeutic means curative, and abortion doesn’t cure anything,” he said, according to a report in the newspaper La Tribuna. “It takes innocent lives away.”

Cardinal Odilo Scherer of São Paulo said recently that mothers must accept babies born with microcephaly “as a mission,” and that abortion was out of the question. However, he appeared to open a door to using condoms, saying that is “personal choice” because a new life has not yet been formed.

The papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, issued by Pope Paul VI in 1968, said that artificial contraception was forbidden because sexual intercourse must always be open to procreation.

“The teaching is fairly clear that contraception is not ethically permissible,” said Christopher Kaczor, a professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University, in Los Angeles, and a corresponding member of the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life.

“That doesn’t mean a couple has to have a child,” he said, because it is possible to use natural family planning methods.

He and other Catholic scholars cited a study showing that when used properly, natural family planning is as effective as birth control pills. However, the United States Department of Health and Human Services reports that the failure rate for natural family planning is 25 out of 100 women, while for birth control pills it is five out of 100.

Other Catholic moral theologians say the church’s ban is not so clear-cut. The Rev. James Bretzke, a moral theologian at Boston College, said that some theologians interpreted a passage in Humanae Vitae as an “escape clause” that essentially permitted women to use an artificial means of contraception if it had the effect of curing or treating disease — for example, using birth control pills to treat menstrual pain or acne. Theologians could apply the same approach to the Zika situation, he said.

“My prediction is this Zika virus is going to reignite the unresolved debate that’s existed since 1968 about the moral status of artificial contraception when applied to extraordinary cases,” Father Bretzke said.

“Now we have not just an individual extraordinary case, but a situation in which these cases are extraordinary for a large group of people,” he said. “You’ve got one competing value — to have every act open to procreation — running up against another competing value — which is to protect the public health.”

The Catholic Church faced intense pressure as the AIDS epidemic spread to lift its ban on the use of condoms to help prevent transmission of the disease. Some nuns and priests who treated AIDS patients, and even the South African Bishops Conference, publicly said that the church should make an exception for married couples to use condoms when one partner tested positive for H.I.V.

Then in 2010, Pope Benedict XVI was quoted in a book saying that in some exceptional cases, when the motivation is to prevent disease rather than pregnancy, using a condom could be a “first step” towards moral responsibility. He said that this might be the case for a prostitute who uses a condom. Benedict’s remark set off widespread controversy and speculation about whether the Vatican would officially issue an exception or change to doctrine. But none came.

Complete Article HERE!

Critic of Vatican refuses to step down from sex abuse commission

File under:  No Surprise Here!

 Peter Saunders poses before a news conference in Rome, Italy February 6, 2016.
Peter Saunders poses before a news conference in Rome, Italy February 6, 2016.

A prominent and outspoken British member of a papal advisory commission on sexual abuse by the clergy on Saturday refused to step down despite a no-confidence vote, and said only Pope Francis could dismiss him.

A Vatican statement issued earlier said that “it was decided” at a commission meeting that Peter Saunders would take a leave of absence. Saunders, head of Britain’s National Association for People Abused in Childhood, would now “consider how he might best support the commission’s work”, it said.

But Saunders, who as a child was abused by two priests, told a hastily called news conference: “I have not left and I am not leaving my position … the only person who can remove me is the person who appointed me, the pope.”

Saunders said he had not been aware of the Vatican’s statement until after it was issued.

Saunders had been publicly critical of the commission, which was set up in 2014. Made up of clerics and lay people from around the world, its task is to help Pope Francis establish “best practices” in dioceses around the world to root out sex abuse in the Church. Eight of its 17 members are women and two are themselves victims of abuse by clerics.

Saunders said that on Saturday morning the commission had taken a near-unanimous vote of no-confidence against him, accusing him of being hard to work with and a “campaigner”, and of talking too much to the media.

“A DISGRACE”

“For me, as a survivor, the commission is a disgrace,” Saunders said. “They believe that child abuse is behind us, but it is in no way behind us …

“I made it clear that I would not be a member of a public relations exercise. The protection of our children is much more important than that.”

Another commission member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was “deeply committed to the protection of children”, but that its brief was to advise and not investigate or judge.

In a worldwide sex abuse scandal, which first became prominent in Boston in 2001, abusers were shunted from parish to parish instead of being defrocked and handed over to authorities.

A year ago, Saunders criticized Francis for appearing to endorse parents who spanked their children in order to discipline them.

And in April, Saunders and three other lay commission members met with a top Vatican official to complain about the appointment of a bishop in Chile who had been accused of covering up abuse by a priest.

Saunders said on Saturday that the pope should dismiss Juan Barros as bishop of Osorno, as a test of his “seriousness on stopping child sex abuse”. Barros denies having known that abuse took place.

Complete Article HERE!

The synod, before and after

The synod on the family was closed before having been initiated. The possibility of a serious discussion with respect to homosexual people was already eliminated in the time of its preparation, when the church was not even able to scientifically verify its own false language: today it goes on – in an ideological way – speaking about “tendencies” instead of “sexual orientation” of human people. In the preparation of the synod, Church has ridiculed and eliminated the homosexual question, deceiving the expectations of humanity for a serious and respectful discussion of the experience of humanity and the scientific knowledge related to the persons belonging to non-heterosexual minorities and their family life, their life of love.

synod headsThe synod doesn’t have “laying closed hearts, which bare the closed hearts which frequently hide even behind the Church’s teachings or good intentions, in order to sit in the chair of Moses and judge, sometimes with superiority and superficiality, difficult cases and wounded families” (Francis, Conclusion of the Synod of Bishops, 24.10.2015). On homosexual persons, on their families and children the synod has produced only a homophobic closing of the reason and the heart. The synod has been incapable of reading the reality of homosexual people and considering them in their human dignity and in their aspirations of love. Such people are only considered inside their own families, almost as they were immature people who require a special care from the other members of the family, all of that behind the dishonest and insensitive “respect”. Without any indication for the life of homosexual people, the synod has only repeated the worst of the documents of the Congregation for the doctrine of the faith: “between the homosexual unions and the God’s plan for marriage and family doesn’t exist remote analogy”. Such repetition is shameful and offensive to the reality of the homosexual and lesbian families, and to their happy children. One wonders if for living according to the wish of synod this persons should get rid of their families and children. Behind the conclusions of the synod dangerous antihuman insinuations can be glimpsed, inciting to arouse sense of guilty and inferiority, of complex and negativity between children and their homosexual fathers or their lesbian mothers. The position of the Congregation repeated by the synod is the offense to the reason, to the human reality and to the Christian sensibility taught by Jesus. It is not the humble discernment of the reality, wished by the Pope Francis. It is an ignorant abuse of the spiritual power of Church.Krzysztof_Charamsa

The lack of sensitivity of Jesus in the synod is a deplorable and particularly serious irresponsibility of Catholic Church. For years I have experimented this irrational multilevel closing of Church. I have experimented the sabotage of the pontificate and Pope Francis’ synods by the Congregation for the doctrine of the faith, where I worked. This way, at the beginning of the synod, with priestly passion, I had asked in my letter to Pope Francis to take seriously in consideration the dignity of homosexual people, of their families and their children. I considered that the Pope is the only person that can stop the absurdity of the retrograde impositions. Today I make public my letter (the next post), taking note of the insensibility and the hateful refusal of persons belonging to sexual minorities. That synod, in mouth of a Father of Synod, has only known to compare homosexual people to the Nazi and to the enemies of humanity. In civil societies such offenses should be denounced: they are defamatory and they arouse hate homophobic hate. The silence of Church on that subject is embarrassing.

Krzysztof Charamsa
Barcelona, 29/10/2015.

Complete Article HERE!