Important Excerpts from the Holy See’s Document

The Truth & Meaning of Human Sexuality

Guidelines for Education within the Family

Rome November 21, 1995

The Pontifical Council for the Family


The family has an affective dignity which is suited to making acceptable without trauma the most delicate realities and to integrating them harmoniously in a balanced and rich personality. As we have recalled, this primary task of the family includes the parents' right that their children should not be obliged to attend courses in school on this subject which are not in harmony with their religious and moral convictions. (no. 64)

It is recommended that parents attentively follow every form of sex education that is given to their children outside the home, removing their children whenever this education does not correspond to their own principles. (no. 117; all emphases throughout appear as in original)

It is recommended that respect be given to the right of the child or young person to withdraw from any form of sexual instruction imparted outside the home. Neither the children nor other members of the family should ever be penalized or discriminated against for this decision. (no. 120)

Finally, as a general guideline, one needs to bear in mind that all the different methods of sexual education should be judged by parents in the light of the principles and moral norms of the Church, which express human values in daily life. (no. 142)

The practice of decency and modesty in speech, action and dress is very important for creating an atmosphere suitable for the growth of chastity, but this must be well motivated by respect for one’s own body and the dignity of others. Parents, as we have said, should be watchful so that certain immoral fashions and attitudes do not violate the integrity of the home, especially through misuse of the mass media. (no. 56)

Formation in chastity and timely information regarding sexuality must be provided [by parents] in the broadest context of education for love. It is not sufficient, therefore, to provide information about sex together with objective moral principles. Constant help is also required for the growth of children’s spiritual life, so that the biological development and impulses they begin to experience will always be accompanied by a growing love of God, the Creator and Redeemer, and an ever greater awareness of the dignity of each human person and his or her body. In the light of the mystery of Christ and the Church, parents can illustrate the positive values of human sexuality in the context of the person’s original vocation to love and the universal call to holiness. (no. 70)

Therefore, in talks with children, suitable advice should always be given regarding how to grow in the love of God and one’s neighbour, and how to overcome any difficulties: "These means are: discipline of the senses and the mind, watchfulness and prudence in avoiding occasions of sin, the observance of modesty, moderation in recreation, wholesome pursuits, assiduous prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. Young people especially should foster devotion to the Immaculate Mother of God". (Persona Humana, 12) (no. 71)

As its departure point, the formation of conscience requires being enlightened about: God’s project of love for every single person, the positive and liberating value of the moral law, and awareness both of the weakness caused by sin and the means of grace which strengthen us on our path towards the good and towards salvation. (no. 95)

It is recommended that parents be aware of their own educational role and defend and carry out this primary right and duty.* It follows that any educative activity, related to education for love and carried out by persons outside the family, must be subject to the parents’ acceptance of it and must be seen not as a substitute but as a support for their work. (no. 113) * Cf. Gravissimum Educationis, 3; Familiaris Consortio, 36; Charter of the Rights of the Family, Article 5

It is recommended that parents associate with other parents, not only in order to protect, maintain or fill out their own role as the primary educators of their children, especially in the area of education for love,* but also to fight against damaging forms of sex education and to ensure that their children will be educated according to Christian principles and in a way that is consonant with their personal development. (no. 114) * Cf. Charter of the Rights of the Family, Articles 8 a. and 5 c.; Code of Canon Law, January 25, 1983, Canons 215, 223 ¤2, 799; Letter to Families, Gratissimam Sane, 16

We are aware of the difficulty and often the impossibility for parents to participate fully in all supplementary instruction provided outside the home. Nevertheless, they have the right to be informed about the structure and content of the programme. In all cases, their right to be present during classes cannot be denied.* (no. 116) * This recommendation is derived from the Charter of the Rights of the Family, because parents’ participation facilitates the supervision and control of their children’s education for love. Article 5 c., d., e.

It is recommended that respect be given to the right of the child and the young person to be adequately informed by their own parents on moral and sexual questions in a way that complies with his or her desire to be chaste and to be formed in chastity. This recommendation is derived from Gravissimum Educationis, 1. This right is further qualified by a child’s stage of development, his or her capacity to integrate moral truth with sexual information and by respect for his or her innocence and tranquility. (no. 119)

Human sexuality is a sacred mystery and must be presented according to the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Church, always bearing in mind the effects of original sin. Informed by Christian reverence and realism, this doctrinal principle must guide every moment of education for love. (no. 122)

At the same time, when teaching Catholic doctrine and morality about sexuality, the lasting effects of original sin must be taken into account, that is to say, human weakness and the need for the grace of God to overcome temptations and avoid sin. In this regard, the conscience of every individual must be formed clearly, precisely and in accord with spiritual values. (no. 123)

No one should ever be invited, let alone obliged, to act in any way that could objectively offend against modesty or which could subjectively offend against his or her own delicacy or sense of privacy. This principle of respect for the child excludes all improper forms of involving children and young people. (no. 127)




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