According to the principle of subsidiarity, "a community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to coordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good." (Centesimus annus, 48).
Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield explained in a 2006 address at Loyola University in Chicago (while he was an auxiliary bishop there), “a state that puts homosexual unions on a par with marriage between a man and a woman has become illegitimate, because it has no right to interfere in the basic cell of society, the family.” Church and civil groups have echoed this statement in recent times due to the ever bolder advancement of the homosexual agenda in our society.
Because the family is the primordial unit of society whose origin pre-dates the city, the state, or the country, the legitimacy of the the larger units are at the service of the smaller, original unit- the family.
A sample of Pope John Paul II writings reaffirm the essential integrity of the family:
January 3,1979; Address of Pope John Paul II : ... “the family is irreplaceable and, as such, must be defended with might and main. Everything must be done in order that the family will not be replaced. That is necessary not only for the private good of every person, but also for the common good of every society, nation, and state.”
Pope John Paul II, Nov 22, 1981, Familiaris consortio, #37: “Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive guidance whether at home or in educational centers chosen and controlled by them. In this regard, the Church reaffirms the law of subsidiarity, which the school is bound to observe when it cooperates in sex education, by entering into the same spirit that animates the parents.”
On behalf of Catholic Families , who enroll their children in Catholic schools to receive a quality education in the Catholic Faith and in academic subjects, Veil of Innocence urges educators, pastors, and bishops to respect the law of subsidiarity as written in Centesimus annus, #48, particularly as it applies to the Catholic school. Educators. pastors, and bishops need to be reminded that there is no historical precedence in Catholic Education which calls for classroom sex education, and that indeed, Pope Pius XI, in Christian Education of Youth -1929, specifically prohibited it. All subsequent Popes have referred to and embrace this monumental encyclical on Catholic education.
Our children have been assigned both “sex education” courses and “safe environment” courses (with sexual content), as part of the ordinary curriculum, often without parental knowledge. Parents have not requested them, nor do they want them. The Vatican II writings, which modestly state that children should be given a “positive and prudent sexual education” defer to Divini illius magistri many times. Yet, Vatican II is misused to justify the denial of subsidiarity.
Because parents have not requested from the schools, this type of program regarding the sexual sphere, which is both sensitive and delicate in nature, because they are competent and have the grace given to them by God to do so themselves, because they are cognizant of a large body of Catholic encyclicals and official Church teachings which prohibit classroom sex education education, on their behalf, Veil of Innocence stands behind parents when they insist that these courses are not now, nor never have been the mission of the Catholic school, which is properly concerned with faith formation and academic subjects.
Furthermore, in accordance with the law of subsidiarity, Veil of Innocence underscores that these programs have not been sought out by the parents but rather have been foisted on them by those who should know better.
If educators claim that a parent or a group of parents request such programs, those in charge of the Catholic schools need to inform those parents of the Church’s prohibitions against such programs.
Moreover, when and where educators see a need to help parents in this sacred task, they should do exactly that. Offer your assistance to the parents, individually, with modesty and prudence- not with children’s classroom training programs. In cases of serious parental neglect, educators should indeed offer help in this area to an individual student, graciously, but with parental permission. And let us not forget about the sacraments!
We must always remember that God has placed the education and formation of the child squarely on the shoulders of parents. They are the “community of the lower order” which “must not have its internal life interfered with”, nor “be deprived of its functions by a community of a higher order. “ The higher order, the school should stand ready to assist, BUT- only when asked, and then, in a manner which respects the Magisterium of the Church.
If educators and parents work together and respect the law of subsidiarity, which insists that it is the parents' right exclusively to educate their children, and to seek help in this regard, individually, as needed, and only when needed, the common good will be enhanced. It will free up moneys and resources for the Catholic school to provide a quality education and faith formation to its students. Parents will not be hindered in their responsibilities. Educators can offer assistance as they spot particular problems, and parents will experience the comfort that they are not alone in fulfilling their task of child-rearing.
Veil of Innocence exhorts those in charge of Catholic Education to re-visit Pope Pius XI’s 1929 Encyclical, Christian Education of Youth, and the Pontifical Council for the Family’s 1995 Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality: Guidelines For Education Within the Family. These documents can chart the course of Catholic education for this new millennium.
It is not a question of parents "opting out" nor even “opting in.” These programs do not belong in Catholic education in the first place.
The family is under assault from all sides, and it is essential that its rights are defended by Holy Mother Church, and that the entire principle of subsidiarity is observed. With the increasing pressure and influence of the anti-Catholic social programs of the U.N., our children’s innocence is being betrayed on a grand scale. The Catholic Church alone, remains the only obstacle to this progressive agenda. Holy Mother Church's children flee to her for protection, and under her wing, desire a truly Catholic school.
The famous philosopher, Dietrich von Hildebrand, perhaps describes our times exactly, even though written in 1969, when he says, “ It is a great travesty of justice when the State falls prey to totalitarianism by mandating sex education in public schools, but it is even a greater tragedy when the representatives of the Church, who should be the great protectors of the sacred rights of the individual and of the family, act in a totalitarian way (and thereby exhibit the worst type of clericalism). It is simply treason and a denial of the Spirit of Christ. It is a complete abdication in front of the world. (von Hildebrand, Sex Education: The Basic Issues; 1969, p. 24)
Alice Ann Grayson
Veil of Innocence, founder