BISHOP RECLAIMS DIOCESAN
AUTHORITY OVER SCHOOL TEXTS
PO Box 625, Adelaide Station
36 Adelaide Street E, Toronto
Ontario CANADA M5C 2J8
June, 1998 issue, pp. 13-15
[reprinted with permission]
FOR OUR CHILDREN AND FOR US ALL
A POLICY STATEMENT ON RELIGIOUS,
FAMILY LIFE AND AIDS EDUCATION FOR THE EPARCHY OF TORONTO
First I thank most sincerely the Toronto Catholic School Board (M.S.S.B.), the Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board and all their members and our dedicated principals, teachers, clergy and parents who have devoted their lives to the Catholic education of our children. Those who instruct others unto justice shall shine like stars for all eternity. (Daniel 12:3)
At this time our Catholic schools are under a continuing threat. In 1997 secularists undid the work of generations and succeeded in destroying our Catholic school systems in Newfoundland and Quebec. The situation in Ontario calls for constant vigilance and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
Our schools must be truly Catholic if they are to survive. This means we must not only have dedicated teachers who are living their Faith as models for our children but also instruments and methods of catechesis in complete harmony with the Church as Mother and Teacher.
Out of her treasury of wisdom and grace and experience the Church has given us legislation and guidelines suited to form Catholics who are faithful to Christ and His call to holiness. We have the Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi tradendae (Handing on the Faith) of Pope John Paul II, 1979. We have the new Catechetical Directory of 1997. We also have the magnificent Catechism of the Catholic Church. These and other magisterial documents should be our guides.
Despite dedicated teachers and expensive programs, our children are, in the main, not adequately instructed in their faith and often do not even know essential prayers and teachings. Among the reasons for this, I believe, are the seriously flawed texts and defective methodology.
After much prayer, reflection and consultation, and keeping in mind my responsibilities as bishop and Apostolic Administrator of the Eparchy of Toronto, I believe it is my duty to call for major modifications in the courses at present in use in our schools. I therefore ask for the following changes:
1. The Training of Teachers
While this is beyond my immediate jurisdiction, because of its importance for all Catholics I ask for the reform of the one-year Teachers College program at O.I.S.E. (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education). Dana Thompson in her article Stones for Bread: The Training of Catholic Teachers succinctly analyzes the serious defects of this program.1 The details alleged can be confirmed from other sources.
A major defect is that the approved text for the required religious education course is Theology for Teachers by Fr. Ian Knox C.S.Sp. Its theological errors have been pointed out by others. I will mention here the fundamental error concerning the nature of original sin. The text reads: Every child finds itself in a world where the formative social and cultural influences are riddled with evil. Unable to escape these influences, every child is eventually drawn into sin. It is this state of sinfulness of the world that we call original sin. (p. 301). Pope Paul VI, in his Credo of the People of God repeats the definition of the Council of Trent, on Original Sin. Original Sin comes non imitatione sed generatione, not from being born into a sinful world but through being children of Adam. This radical error infects the whole theology of this book in its treatment of redemption, baptism, grace and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. Therefore, I ask that this text be withdrawn.
This series, in use across Canada, was produced by the National Office of Religious Education of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. The General Catechetical Directory requires that any catechetical text published and approved by a national hierarchy must also be approved by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and the Congregation for the Clergy. The Born of the Spirit series does not have this approval from Rome. The General Catechetical Directory also requires that texts such as Born of the Spirit be in harmony with and based on The Catechism of the Catholic Church. The Born of the Spirit series does not meet these requirements.
The Born of the Spirit program has numerous errors and omissions and a defective methodology. Teresa Pierlot describes these errors in her book An Overview of the Born of the Spirit Catechism Series.2
The Born of the Spirit series should be replaced by excellent orthodox courses such as Faith and Life (Ignatius Press) as soon as possible. It is in complete conformity in content and methodology with The General Catechetical Directory and The Catechism of the Catholic Church and officially approved by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops.3
3. The Fully Alive Family Life
This series is gravely flawed because it deviates from the Churchs teaching on family life education. This teaching is set forth in the encyclical of Pope Pius XI On the Christian Education of Youth of Dec. 31, 1929, the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio (The Christian Family in the Modern World) Nov. 22, 1981, Educational Guidance in Human Love of the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, Nov. 1, 1983 and most recently The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Dec. 8, 1995.
The Fully Alive program ignores the latency period of our children and therefore can contribute to the loss of innocence. It gives group instruction in intimate sexual matters although the Church has specifically forbidden this. It is woefully deficient in its treatment of moral principles. It often ignores the Churchs teaching on sin and grace and modesty. It does not distinguish between the different degrees of maturity in the same class as the Church tell us teachers must do. It violates the principle of imparting information on sexual matters only at the point of development when this is needed. The Fully Alive program is not a program for formation in Christian virtue but a program of imparting sexual knowledge to children.
A summary of the matters discussed at the Grade 7 level makes clear how this sex education course descends to the level of child abuse. Terms explained include: cervical mucus, acrosome, testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, erection, ejaculation, nocturnal emissions, homosexuality, masturbation, rape, and sexual molestation. In Grade 8 education in methods of contraception, even illicit and abortifacient ones, is given. This education in evil can only promote sexual experimentation and sins. I recommend the booklet From Winnipeg to Fully Alive by Msgr. Vincent Foy for an in depth analysis of the defects and shortcomings of the Fully Alive course.4
My recommendation asks that the Fully Alive program be replaced in our schools; all that is necessary can be taught in the context of the Sixth and Ninth Commandments with formation and teaching in the virtues of chastity and modesty and in accordance with the directives of The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, through the solid Faith and Life religion series.
The proper authority in the area of family life education should be with the parents. For parents, the best guidelines for education within the family are The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality and The Catechism of the Catholic Church. Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God (Matt. 5:8).
4. AIDS Education
In the Fall of 1986 the Ontario Government ordered AIDS education in all schools. The response to this in our Catholic schools is the program Education About Intimacy, Education About AIDS. This program condones the opinion that in some instances condom use is the lesser of two evils. This is morally unacceptable. I endorse the letter on chastity of Bishop Tonnos of Hamilton in 1987, rejecting the use of condoms or the discussion of their use. Proper AIDS education does not ignore the frightful nature of HIV in its ultimate origin in illicit sexual intercourse and contact. At the same time proper AIDS instruction gives zero education in condom usage.
A new course in Catholic schools on AIDS, called AIDS: A Catholic Educational Approach to HIV is proposed for pilot trial this year. I have seen an analysis of it by Dr. John Shea, co-founder of the Canadian Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. It has just been published in Catholic Insight magazine.5 This new course is clearly unacceptable. I must point out that Homosexuality should not be discussed before adolescence unless a specific serious problem has developed in a particular situation. This subject must be presented only in terms of chastity, health and the truth about human sexuality in its relationship to the family as taught by the Church (The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, n. 125). Despite this wise directive, the new AIDS course recommends that PFLAG, a homosexual advocacy group, be invited into the classrooms to talk to our children. This is an abomination.
Because of errors in doctrine and methodology and serious omissions, I ask that the current AIDS program, Education About Intimacy, Education About AIDS, be withdrawn now from our schools and the new proposed one, as [sic] AIDS: A Catholic Educational Approach to HIV, not be introduced. The best possible AIDS program is to promote chastity, its guardian modesty and the means of grace. These are treated magnificently in the second and third parts of The Catechism of the Catholic Church and covered in the Faith and Life religion series, under the Sixth and Ninth Commandments, which I now endorse for our schools. To follow the Churchs teaching on chastity would be to eliminate AIDS from the face of the earth.
The program that I here recommend is nothing else but an act of trust and hope in the Church as our spiritual guide. Only by being faithful to the Church can we be faithful to Christ, to parents, to children and ourselves. I am confident that immense blessings will be showered on all those who dedicate themselves to its implementation. Pope Pius XI said to a group of teachers that Jesus wants saints among the children of today.
Surely in this age, in this place, Jesus wants a school program suitable to produce holy children, strong and knowledgeable in their Faith. I believe this new policy will do this with the mutual cooperation of clergy, parents, school boards, principals, and teachers.
May God bless abundantly all those who take part in the restoration of Catholic teaching. I invoke on all the help of the Holy Spirit, and Mary Immaculate, Seat of Wisdom and Mother of the Church.
May 4, 1998
Most Rev. Roman Danylak, S.T.L., J.U.D.
Eparchy of Toronto
[reprinted with permission]
for additional copies contact
National Coalition of Clergy & Laity
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CATHOLIC INSIGHT JUNE 1998