"The family...finds its place here as the first school for the social, cultural, moral and spiritual formation and growth of children ... Parents must be always free to transmit to their children, responsibly and without constraints, their heritage of faith, values and culture. The family, the first cell of human society, remains the primary training ground for harmonious relations at every level of coexistence, human, national and international ..."The right of parents to be primary educators of their children is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (and Pope Benedict refers to that declaration in his message). This is a point I fully explored in my concluding address to the Fourth International Pro-Life Congress, in Saragossa, Spain.
What a scandal it is that the Catholic Education Service (CES), an agency of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, pays lip-service to Catholic pro-life/pro-family teaching and parents' rights while facilitating anti-life/anti-family teaching and so-called services in Catholic schools!
Very timely is Pope Benedict's comments today in a message to the archbishop of Naples:
"Of course, today's social and cultural context is very different from the past and, although we may joy in the Lord for the genuine and persisting faith of so many Christians, it is painful to note the spread of a secularised view of life and the emergence of evils afflicting the body public, which is threatened by individualism. In this atmosphere, negative and deviant models also exercise their influence, having a strong impact on family and social life, especially on the new generations. Thus I wish to reiterate the urgent need for the human and Christian formation of children and young people, because they are seriously exposed to the risks of deviancy".The risks of such deviancy would have been the inevitable effect of the previous government's legislative proposals for sex and relationships education, which were based on prevailing ideas which Vincent Nichols, archbishop of Westminster, publicly went along with. Ed Balls, the then education secretary, made clear - and was supported by both David Cameron, the current prime minister and Nick Clegg, the current deputy prime minister - that faith schools should be forced to teach that homosexuality is normal and harmless.
SPUC is already responding to "the urgent need for the human and Christian formation of children and young people" by helping parents keep their children Safe at School.
Extracts from Pope Benedict's message for the 44th World Day of Peace, 1 January 2011:
"Respect for essential elements of human dignity, such as the right to life and the right to religious freedom, is a condition for the moral legitimacy of every social and legal norm."* Why is the Catholic Church's teaching on sexuality (and dissent from that teaching) important for the pro-life movement? The late Pope John Paul II, the great pro-life champion, taught in paragraph 97 of his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae that it is an illusion to think that we can build a true culture of human life if we do not offer adolescents and young adults an authentic education in sexuality, and in love, and the whole of life according to their true meaning and in their close interconnection.
"The family founded on marriage, as the expression of the close union and complementarity between a man and a woman, finds its place here as the first school for the social, cultural, moral and spiritual formation and growth of children, who should always be able to see in their father and mother the first witnesses of a life directed to the pursuit of truth and the love of God. Parents must be always free to transmit to their children, responsibly and without constraints, their heritage of faith, values and culture. The family, the first cell of human society, remains the primary training ground for harmonious relations at every level of coexistence, human, national and international. Wisdom suggests that this is the road to building a strong and fraternal social fabric, in which young people can be prepared to assume their proper responsibilities in life, in a free society, and in a spirit of understanding and peace."
"Numerous charitable and cultural institutions testify to the constructive role played by believers in the life of society. More important still is religion’s ethical contribution in the political sphere."
"Today too, in an increasingly globalized society, Christians are called, not only through their responsible involvement in civic, economic and political life but also through the witness of their charity and faith, to offer a valuable contribution to the laborious and stimulating pursuit of justice, integral human development and the right ordering of human affairs. The exclusion of religion from public life deprives the latter of a dimension open to transcendence. Without this fundamental experience it becomes difficult to guide societies towards universal ethical principles and to establish at the national and international level a legal order which fully recognizes and respects fundamental rights and freedoms as these are set forth in the goals – sadly still disregarded or contradicted – of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
"The patrimony of principles and values expressed by an authentic religiosity is a source of enrichment for peoples and their ethos. It speaks directly to the conscience and mind of men and women, it recalls the need for moral conversion, and it encourages the practice of the virtues and a loving approach to others as brothers and sisters, as members of the larger human family."
"Politics and diplomacy should look to the moral and spiritual patrimony offered by the great religions of the world in order to acknowledge and affirm universal truths, principles and values which cannot be denied without denying the dignity of the human person. But what does it mean, in practical terms, to promote moral truth in the world of politics and diplomacy? It means acting in a responsible way on the basis of an objective and integral knowledge of the facts; it means deconstructing political ideologies which end up supplanting truth and human dignity in order to promote pseudo-values under the pretext of peace, development and human rights; it means fostering an unswerving commitment to base positive law on the principles of the natural law. All this is necessary and consistent with the respect for the dignity and worth of the human person enshrined by the world’s peoples in the 1945 Charter of the United Nations, which presents universal values and moral principles as a point of reference for the norms, institutions and systems governing coexistence on the national and international levels."
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