Fr. John Forliti's "Issues in Sexuality"


Previous articles have highlighted the radical deficiences of the Wm. C. Brown Co.'s "New Creation" sex education program which merited the reproach of "a travesty of sex education" from no less an authority than Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, P.s.s., president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family.

The "theological consultant" for that unsavory program was Fr. John Forliti, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis. Fr. Forliti has been a very busy sex educator indeed, since he is also the author of "Valuing Values: Reverence for Life and Family II", a sex education program for Catholic high schools.

(A trenchant analysis of 'Valuing Values' written by a distinguished Jesuit theologian demonstrating its lack of conformity with Catholic teaching is available from CUF, 827 N 4th St., Steubenville, OH 43952).

It is time now to examine another sex education program for which Fr. Forliti has been the "theological consultant". This is the "Issues in Sexuality" program. It declares itself a: "unique 8-unit video-cassette program in full color (15-17 minutes in length) which articulates the Catholic Church's teachings on human sexuality in a clear and attractive manner and on a variety of topics." It provides a 14-page study guide with philosophy, goals, activities, and complete lesson plans for each unit, and an additional 8-page student handout" (with the entire program available for $320).

The "quality" of this "Catholic" sex education program may immediately be gauged by noting its adherence to the 7 "theologically based principles" set forth in the USCC's faulty "Education in Human Sexuality for Christians" Guidelines (which smacked more of Planned Parenthood's philosophy than anything authentically Christian). These same Guidelines met with severe criticism from Catholic parents nationwide as well as from prominent Catholic moral theologians when they were issued in 1981. (interestingly, these Guidelines are presently in the process of being "revised" - doubtless due to the scathing criticisms received from such lay groups as Catholics United for the Faith). The wishy-washy, bland, humanistic, prevaricating twaddle presented as Catholic teaching in 'Issues in Sexuality' is graphically reflected in the following answers to two "Practical Questions" posed by teachers of the program. Thus we read:

"What is the proper response when a student expresses a belief contrary to the Church's teachings?"

"Listen carefully to the student's viewpoint in a respectful way, clarifying his or her stance if necessary. Without being defensive, acknowledge that the view is at variance from the Church's teaching. Your role is not to pressure students into accepting the Church's position on every issue, which is an impossible task. It is by your personal conviction that you encourage their decision-making process to include the Catholic Church's perspective."

"What if my personal viewpoint is not in complete agreement with the Church on a particular issue?"

"The critical question to ask yourself is whether you can credibly present the Church's teachings and explain the rationale behind the Church's stance on an issue. A catechist could legitimately struggle with an issue and still be able to teach the Church's stance with integrity. If you are unable to do this comfortably, it is wise to ask another catechist, the religious education coordinator, or the pastor to team-teach with you on that issue. It is essential to continue your own study and reflection on that issue, since you may be vulnerable to student and parent questions on that issue."

(Study Guide, Homosexuality, pp. 9-10.)

How a conscientious teacher can credibly present the Church's moral teachings without believing them to be true our author and his "theological consultant" do not explain. Nor, of course, can they! A teacher's lack of "personal conviction" in setting forth Catholic doctrine only serves to convict him of hypocrisy and dishonesty in the eyes of the young. Moreover, the "Catholic Church's perspective" on a point of the moral law of God is not to be presented as a "stance" or an option for "further study and reflection" by a dissenter or doubter but rather as a point of doctrine obliging the assent of mind and will of a Catholic believer.

If the author, Mr. Johnson, is muddled, it is no wonder. His bibliography indicates he has relied on various dissenters from the Magisterium who compiled the unfortunate USCC Guidelines as well as on such "experts" as Fr. Forliti who, in fact, personally dissented from Humanae Vitae as soon as that prophetic document saw the light of day in 1968. Fr. Forliti's public dissent was apparently soon rewarded by his being appointed the Religious Education Director of the Archdiocese!

The following dissenters from the Magisterium's teaching on contraception are also featured in Johnson's bibliography: Mary Therese Judd, author of 'Love and Lifestyles'; Michele McCarty, notorious for her books 'Loving' and 'Relating'; and Richard Reichert, author of 'Sexuality and Dating' and grade 4-8 of the revolting 'New Creation' program. (Reviews of each of the preceding are available from CUF).

With such dissenters setting the tone of 'Issues in Sexuality', it is not surprising that its "catechesis" on Contraception and Homosexuality represents yet another disgraceful betrayal of Catholic teaching.

(to be continued)

Reprinted from SERVIAM Newsletter, 1987