Catholic Insight

PO Box 625, Adelaide Station

36 Adelaide Street E, Toronto

Ontario CANADA M5C 2J8

June, 1998 issue, pp. 13-15

[reprinted with permission]

In March, Tom Reilly, general secretary of the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated that com­plaints about the new AIDS curriculum for Catholic schools had prompted the bishops to take a new look at its theology and that a committee would be set up for this purpose. Without waiting for a committee report to appear, Bishop Roman Danylak, apostolic administrator for the Eparchy of Toronto, has prepared a critique of his own, not only of the AIDS curriculum, but also of the Ontario Fully Alive “family life” series and the national (CCCB) Born of the Spirit catechism series.

With respect to the American based AIDS program, we refer readers also to our News in Brief section where we summarize the criticisms of Always Our Children, an American pastoral letter issued last fall. Among the many critics is an American prelate, Bishop Bruskewitz.

In the history of the Church the local bishop has always been acknowledged as the chief teacher in his dio­cese. It is his responsibility to ensure that the Deposit of the Faith is taught and safeguarded. Over the last 40 years this teaching role has been severely circumscribed by national and regional bishops’ conferences which, in turn, have relied heavily on general and specialized staff to advise them. Not infrequently their advice and printed productions have been less than helpful. Bishops like Roman Danylak and Fabian Bruskewitz are now reclaiming their authority and re-asserting their responsibility for what is being taught.

Bishop Danylak writes of the necessity for us to have “not only 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.”

We welcome the fact that the Ontario bishops are responding to the concerns expressed about the AIDS cur­riculum. We encourage others, whether teachers or parents, who have had an opportunity to study the AIDS program or Fully Alive, to present their views to Mr. Tom Reilly, Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, 50 St. Mary Street, Toronto Ontario, and perhaps also write to Catholic Insight. Objections to Born of the Spirit can be sent to the National Office of Religious Education, CCCB, 90 Parent Avenue, Ottawa, Ontario CANADA K1N 7B1; tel 613/241-9461.





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 Teacher’s 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.

2. The Born of the Spirit

Catechism Series

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”

Education Series

This series is gravely flawed because it deviates from the Church’s 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 Church’s 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 Church’s 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.

Apostolic Administrator

Eparchy of Toronto


1. Catholic Insight, Jan/Feb, 1998, pp 13-16

2. Teresa Pierlot, June 1997, revised January 1998:

RR 2, Morell, Prince Edward Island, CANADA C0A 1S0

3. The Faith and Life religion series can be ordered directly from Ignatius Press, PO Box 1339, Fort Collins, CO 80522; tel 800/651-1531; or through St. Francis Books, 41 Janedale Crescent, Whitby, Ontario CANADA L1N 6Z5; tel 905/579-4273; or St. Bernard’s Books at 416/696-2573.

4. Published by Human Life International, PO Box 7400, Stn. V, Vanier, Ontario CANADA K1L 8E4; tel 613/745-9405, fax 613/745-9868.

5. Catholic Insight, PO Box 625, Adelaide Stn., 36 Adelaide Street E, Toronto, Ontario CANADA M5C 2J8; tel 416/368-4558, fax 416/368-8575.

[reprinted with permission]

for additional copies contact

National Coalition of Clergy & Laity

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