Pope Paul And His Rebuke
Of The Sex Educationists


The remarks by Pope Paul VI in a general audience (published in THE WANDERER 4-15-71 and the English-language edition of L'OSSERVATORE ROMANO 4-8-71) in condemnation of aberrations in classroom sex education — and perhaps the Pontiff's first explicit public reference to the subject of sexual education — were long awaited by Catholic parents appalled at the open and widespread flouting of the norms of Catholic moral theology characterizing such "education" in the United States. As the BUFFALO EVENING NEWS (3-31-71) stated; the Pontiff "criticized educators for forgetting 'certain aspects of reality' in introducing sexual education in the schools." Recognizing that some educators "talk of sexual education with praiseworthy intent," Pope Paul sharply rebuked them for grievously ignoring the Christian vision of man:

"But people sometimes forget some aspects of human reality, no less objective than those offered by immediate naturalistic observation, such as the necessity of modesty, the regard due to the differentiation of the two sexes, male and female, and above all the delicacy required by the disorder of the passions, introduced into the ethico-physico-psychological makeup of every human being by original sin. All these things do indeed call for a sexual education but also for many, delicate precautions, particularly in the education of the young, and recommend to teachers a wise and timely intervention, in gradual, limpid and pure language."

(cfr. Conc. Vat. II; Decl. Gravissimum educ., n. 1;
Pius XII, Discorsi, XIll, p. 257;
Ratio Fund. inst. sacerdotalis, n. 48;
St. Ambrose's works on virginity. penitence, etc.
(General Audience, March 31st, 1971)

The Pontiff here singles out the basic deficiencies of what may realistically be said to typify practically all the formal programs of sex education that have found their way into both public and parochial schools. In an earlier address referring to problems of co-education, the Pope had sternly admonished:

"It must be remembered that there are at stake moral norms which cannot be jettisoned. The Church has Her own tradition of education from which the new guidelines for the schools and the new pedagogical experience may not depart"

("To Italian Teachers Federation" L'Osservatore Romano, 1-14-71)

Anyone who has carefully followed the implementation of SIECUS-oriented programs of sex education in public schools, [such as] Dr. Gerald Guerinot's atrocious Rochester program, and the Imbiorski-McHugh-Ryan "Becoming A Person" oddity, is aware of the discarding (at the behest of jaunty Anglo-American secularism) of the "many, delicate precautions" the Pontiff and his saintly predecessors Pius XI and Pius XII insisted must be observed in the sexual education of youth. A recent article by Fr. Gino Concetti, O.F.M., in the English edition of L'Osservatore Romano clearly expresses the concern of the Vatican at the deviations taking place in Catholic schools from the principles of sexual education laid down by Pius XI:

"Partly connected with the problem of co-education is the other problem of sexual education. In the last decade sexual education has become one of the principle subjects in the formation of the young. Initiatives in this direction have been taken at various levels, but they have not always been carried out with prudence and sound teaching principles. It is worth recalling at this point that the encyclical 'Divini Illius Magistri' (The Christian Education of Youth) disapproves of the naturalistic conception of 'sexual education'. This conception is confident that it 'can forearm the young against the dangers of the senses with purely natural means' and does so with 'rash initiation and previous instruction for everyone indiscriminately and even publicly'"



The fact of the matter is that mixed classes of boys and girls receiving sex education together in the form of excessive doses of biology and physiology and in a context of unabashed Naturalism has become the norm on the American educational scene. Moreover, endemic in both public and parochial schools is "Situation Ethics" — or as Time magazine phrased it candidly: "America's persistent tendency to present choices as moral absolutes" (8-31-70). Completely incongruent in an age boasting of its regard for personalism and individual liberty, as well as the "spirit of Vatican II," is the ugly spirit of totalitarianism that has manifested itself in both public and parochial school systems. Protesting Catholic fathers and mothers told to summarily withdraw their children from Catholic schools because of objections to sex education have witnessed the callous disregard of their parental rights by teaching Religious, and, sad to say, in some cases, even bishops. In public schools, the National Education Association, working hand-in-glove with SIECUS mentors, openly brandishes the iron fist:

"Those who wish a (sex education) program have to indicate their concern and stand behind the school authorities. The community itself must be educated to the serious needs for this kind of program and, probably, in the beginning, schools will get further if they allow the child of any parent who seriously object to the program to be excused from it"

(brochure — What Parents Should Know About Sex Education In The Schools —
published by the NEA


Pope Paul's strictures on sex education are, therefore, particularly relevant to the American scene. Not only are the Pontiff's reflections a further application of his continuing critique of the materialism and sexual hedonism afflicting Western society, but are in the staunch tradition of his venerable predecessors Pius XI and Pius XII. Readers will note the Pontiff's reference to Vatican II's "Declaration On Christian Education" (n. 1), which sex educationists have attempted to wrest in favor of their position of formal classroom sex education. The authoritative commentary on the conciliar document by the Rt. Rev. (now Bishop) Mark J. Hurley is instructive in properly interpreting both the Council's statement and the Pope's reference to it:

"Perhaps even more striking is the statement early in the text (n.1) that children 'be given also, as they advance in years, a positive and prudent sexual education.' This curt text stands in rather sharp contrast to the four paragraphs on sex education in Pius XI's encyclical 'On The Christian Education Of Youth' but in no way contradicts the encyclical whose strictures on naturalism, 'so called sex education,' early exposure to the occasions of sin and denial of original sin in the matter still stand valid. Actually it changes, and indeed develops, only one word of the encyclical — ' if ':

'Clearly in this extremely delicate matter, all things considered, some private instruction is found necessary and opportune from those who hold from God the commission to teach and who have the grace of state, every precaution must be taken.'

The Council has deleted the one word and in effect is saying that, all things considered today, private instruction IS necessary and those with the commission to teach and the grace of state should see to a positive and prudent education in the matters of sex. The mood of the imperative has replaced the conditional 'if'."

(Declaration On Christian Education Of Vatican Council II
— commentary by the Rt. Rev. Mark J. Hurley, Paulist Press, 1966; pp. 88-89


Nor will the present frenzied crop of Catholic sex educationists determined to impose their misguided programs find comfort in the Pope's other quoted references. These sources reflect traditional doctrine concerning the necessity of parents and teachers (the latter in special reference to the needs of seminarians) — to inculcate in the young by religious example and precept the beautiful virtue of chastity which is to be ardently defended by cultivation of the habits of prayer, vigilance, and mortification of the senses. Indeed, there is little doubt that much of the "Catholic" (and non-Catholic) sex-education material that has flooded the market in the last few years, and been given the blessing of Msgr. McHugh's malaprop "Family Life Division" (see its recommended bibliographies of sex-education materials), falls under Pius XII's scathing censure:

"We refer to writings, books, and articles concerning sexual initiation which nowadays often reach enormous sales and floods the whole world, invading infancy, submerging the new generation, disturbing the minds of those engaged to be married and of young married couples...

The intolerable impudence of such literature is appalling: whereas the pagan world itself seemed to halt with respect before the secret intimacy of married life, today we witness the violation of that mystery, which is offered to the public at large, even to the young, as a vivid sensual spectacle. There is truly reason to wonder whether there still remains a sufficiently clear-cut borderline between this initiation - so-called Catholic - and the erotic or obscene literature and illustrations which aim deliberately at corruption or which, for base motives of interest, shamefully exploit the basest interests of fallen nature...

Furthermore, this so-called literature seems not to take into account the universal experience which is of yesterday, of today, and of all times, because it is based on nature itself, and which attests that in moral education neither initiation nor instruction brings of itself any advantage; that it is in fact seriously harmful and detrimental if not firmly supported by constant discipline, strong self-control, and, above all, by resort to the supernatural force of prayer and the Sacraments...

The very principles so wisely illustrated by Our predecessor Pius XI in his encyclical "On The Christian Education Of Youth" on the subject of sexual education and its interrelated problems, are set aside — sad sign of the times! — with a simple wave of the hand or with a smile. Pius XI, it is said, wrote these things 20 years ago for his own times; much ground has been covered since then!"

Pope Pius XII concluded the above address to French fathers, calling upon them

"under the guidance of their Bishops... to thwart and disrupt these movements (fostering naturalistic sex education) whatever may be the name or the authority with which they cloak themselves or which may have been lent to them"

(Address to French fathers, September 18th, 1951).


Since the saintly Pius wrote these words, twenty more years have elapsed. The moral collapse of Western society he prophetically predicted is upon us in all its stark reality as manifested by the growing barbarism and increasingly strident neo-paganism reflected in various areas of American culture. The Anglo-American form of neo-paganism, secular humanism, has become the de-facto religion of the public school, and has influenced the introduction into parochial schools of educational ideals, methods, and programs radically opposed to Catholic tradition. Nowhere is this more glaringly evident for all to see than in the horrific sex-ploitation that has been permitted to invade the once hallowed classrooms of Catholic schools.

In his recent address, Pope Paul spoke of the beauty and value of purity:

Purity is the condition adapted to Love, real Love, both natural love and the superhuman Love dedicated solely to the Kingdom of Heaven." Education in purity, he emphasized, is the communication of "knowledge disinfected of all possible contagion" and "innocent, perhaps ignorant of the pathological phenomenology of corrupt life."

The decadent programs in sex education hawked by SIECUS-oriented clerical bureaucrats and worldly Religious, themselves victims of an erroneous progressivism, blatantly contradict these ecclesial norms of integral Christian formation.


Pope Paul's trenchant rebuke of aberrant sex education in the schools is a welcome reminder of the perennial vigilance of the See of Peter in combatting the evils of sexual hedonism and moral permissiveness in contemporary society — excesses that have even infected certain Catholic circles. The Supreme Shepherd has rightly denounced the danger of moral pollution involved in sex-education programs. The efforts of Catholic parents in our own Country engaged in resisting the imposition of formal classroom sex education have thus borne an appreciable measure of success. It is to be devoutly hoped that our own Bishops (faced with the growing disenchantment of increasing numbers of Catholic parents towards a Catholic school system riddled with doctrinal laxity at all levels) will declare themselves equally as responsive to safeguard the spiritual welfare of those little ones whom Christ held up for the emulation of his Apostles:

"If anyone hurts the consciences of one of these little ones, that believe in Me, he had better have been drowned in the depths of the sea, with a mill-stone hung about his neck. Woe to the world, for the hurt done to consciences" (Matt. 18:6-7).

Reprinted from "THE WANDERER", issue of May 6, 1971.