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No "perverse softness".

EDITOR

From time to time there are conflicts between bishops and laity. Catholics are rightly taught to respect their bishops. After all, bishops are the successors of the apostles whom Jesus entrusted with His Church. They are the shepherds of the faithful and teach with authority in matters of faith and morals, provided they do so in union with the Holy Father in Rome.

Even when bishops go beyond the strict boundaries of faith and morals into adjoining areas such as education, the economy and politics, their voices must be respected and their exhortations taken to heart. Bishops have the right - and duty - to uphold the principles of faith and morals which are to be applied in these areas.

Since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965), the Church has witnessed a number of clashes involving individual bishops, or whole conferences of bishops, even in the area of faith and morals.

One example was the battle over the 1996 Dutch Catechism. It was approved by the Dutch bishops but challenged first by the laity and then by Rome. When the Catechetical Institute responsible refused to revise its product, the Vatican ordered new editions to carry a fifty-page addendum.

Just recently, in March, 1998, the Sacred Congregation for the Clergy ordered Bishop Peter Smith of East Anglia, England, to withdraw his Imprimatur from a popular school text, Roman Catholic Christianity. The bishop did so grudgingly, still defending the authors, even though the examiners pointed out that almost everything about the book - its tone, approach and content - was at variance with Catholicism.

Another case was the removal of a bishop's Imprimatur from the U.S. catechism Christ Among Us. This took seventeen years and was accomplished only after the book had sold three million copies. During these years the complainants were donounced, ridiculed, pooh-poohed and labelled "pre-Vatican II reactionaries"! Meanwhile, this text contained false teaching. If matters of faith and morals can be disputed, how much more so such things as sex education, which falls under the authority of the laity, namely parents.

AIDS program

In this edition, Catholic Insight brings details of a conflict between the Ontario bishops, who have approved an AIDS program to be introduced into Catholic elementary schools, and protesting laity. The issue is important; differences are profound; and already the case has been forwarded to Rome. Catholic Insight, which published two critiques in earlier issues (April and Nov. '97), now sets forth the dispute in greater detail. See pages 11-23.

The program

The program should be set aside for three reasons:

* First, although the AIDS program states that homosexual activity is "morally unacceptable," it omits the fuller Catholic teaching that such activity is not merely unacceptable but a mortal sin, and that it leads not just to disease but to damnation;

* secondly, it contains errors about AIDS, homosexuality, and the relationship between these two;

* thirdly, it debilitates opposition to the homosexual "lifestyle" while promoting a misguided compassion for it.

The bishops did not write this AIDS curriculum. Rather it came from an American source with episcopal approval attached, was slightly touched up by personnel of the Institute for Catholic Education (ICE), after which it received the stamp of approval (Imprimatur) from the chairman of the Bishops' Education committee, Bishop James Doyle of Peterborough. From there on in, the program is said to carry "the approval of the bishops," though it may well be that none of the 20 or so members of the Ontario Bishops Conference has actually read it. The whole point of delegating is to spare the bishops an increase in their already heavy workload.

The consequence of this procedure is, unfortunately, a great deal of bullying. Anyone who raises a question about the curriculum is answered with "the bishops have approved it" - end of discussion. If the questioners continue, eyebrows are raised and they are told in no uncertain tones, "Do you know better than the bishops?"

If the critics persist, school authorities "consult" parents. That is to say, some parents are given an outline of the curriculum, possibly with a denunciation of the critics, and another reminder of episcopal approval. But parents are not shown the criticisms. These are suppressed. This leaves them at sea, and being busy people themselves who don't have time to go through a thick school text - which they think should be handled by the school administrators anyway - they shrug their shoulders and wave off any interest. Whereupon someone triumphantly declares that the program has 99.7% parental approval.

This simply won't do. We are in the throes of a vast propaganda campaign to make sodomy acceptable and to have the normal classified as deviant. Already anyone who disagrees is dubbed homophobic. Laws are being changed to accommodate phony equal "rights." Courts intervene. Mayors are threatened. Schools are invaded.

What is needed is not an accommodation of "it's out there, you may as well get used to it." We need a ringing defence of God's law, and a call to arms through prayer and action.

"Don't be perversely soft-hearted," stated St. Augustine (Sermon 31, 10, A.D. 417). The AIDS program should be cancelled.
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Editorial
Date:May 1, 1998
Words:853
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