I was making a quick scan of my Facebook feed one day back in August, when I came across an alarming post. It was an article denouncing the Vatican’s release of a new sex-ed program for Catholic teens that would be showcased at World Youth Day. The article had a five-alarm warning tone to it, claiming the program was void of acknowledging parental rights and teaching about mortal sin. So, I clicked to investigate.
But, I wasn’t ready to get my knickers in a twist just yet. It sounded as if some small sliver of truth might be getting spun into a frenzy of sensationalism. After reviewing the online program I re-read the article, which left me with the impression the Vatican has suddenly become a society of leches and low-lifes who just want to corrupt our children. I disagree. And although the article pointed out both positive and negative points of the program, there is one point with which I take issue, and that is the insistence that we must have “a healthy sense of shame when it comes to the body and sexuality.”
First, there are some things to take into consideration when you review this program aimed at preteens and teens, and one of those things is the translation of the program from Italian into English, which leaves a lot to be desired. It’s not great. It’s also helpful to remember that the subject of sexuality and sexual intimacy in Europe is far more liberal than in the United States, and what an Italian might be used to seeing as normal or “not that bad” might be fairly shocking to an American. There were a handful of pictures placed sporadically throughout the six-unit program that I would definitely object to and feel are inappropriate for teens to view.
However, the program has a lot of good in it. It is obviously based on the themes and teachings of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, and it takes great care in walking teens through some important issues that don’t get talked about much these days such as respect for one’s sexuality, proper gender identification (which is a critical issue these days), dressing modestly, virtues and the importance of virtuous behavior, and a teen-relatable understanding of why sex within marriage is good and why sex outside of marriage it is sinful.
But I think the article took a wrong turn when it stated that people need to have “a healthy sense of shame when it comes to the body and sexuality.”