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  • Editorial: New Guidance from Rome

    New Guidance from Rome
     
    FAITH magazine hails the arrival of the new Directory of Catechetics. This is important – indeed essential – for our Catholic schools. It updates and affirms the previous Directory, and issues some useful and practical guidelines for those charged with teaching the Catholic Faith.
     
    In particular, the Directory tackles a topic much discussed in the West today. Are men and women different? Should we speak of the two sexes as being different from one another? Are we allowed to teach the facts of biological differences between males and females?
     
    The truth
     
    The Church defends and upholds the truth about the human person, male and female, and in doing so defends the dignity and rights of her sons and daughters. The new Directory states clearly: “God is the initial and ultimate reference of life, from its conception to natural death; the person is always unity of spirit and body; science is at the service of the person; life must be accepted in any condition, because it is redeemed by the paschal mystery of Jesus Christ.”
     
    And on the topic of “gender identity,” the document critiques the belief which does not accept gender as an “original fact which man must accept and fill with meaning” but considers it only “a social construction that is decided independently, totally free from biological sex.”
     
    Sexual identity
     
    The Directory goes on to explain that the Church “is aware that, in a perspective of faith, sexuality is not only a physical fact, but a personal reality, a value entrusted to the responsibility of the person.” It emphasises “In this way, sexual identity and existential
    living will have to be a response to God’s original call.”
     
    And this is the truth that must be taught in Catholic schools. This needs to be emphasized. Catholic schools in Britain receive public funds, and in doing so have full freedom to teach the Catholic Faith and morals, and to operate as Catholic communities. In discussing human relationships, Catholic schools are not – repeat not – obliged to conform to a current fashion that ignores biological truth or obliges children to repeat fashionable mantras that contradict the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life.
     
    Freedom
     
    This is a matter of religious freedom, and also of the specific contribution that Catholic schools make to the common good.
     
    The Church defends religious freedom. This is important for us in Britain – and of even greater importance in countries with despotic governments. That includes China. Vatican negotiations and a “China agreement” spell danger if they include any sort of commitment to allowing the Chinese government to appoint Bishops. The Church understands that a nation is more – much more – than its government. The Church’s primary relationship is not with any government and indeed a healthy distance can ensure the best practice. The great St John Paul grasped this truth and taught it to the world. The Communist governments of Eastern Europe and the USSR did not represent the sum total of the lives of the people of those territories. The Church can and must speak to people with the voice of truth. The Pope's task is to “confirm the brethren” in faith and to be the rock on which the truth is upheld.
     
    Courage
     
    This needs courage – and not just from Peter. Our Bishops here at home need our support and prayers as our Catholic schools re-open this Autumn. It seems possible that imposition of the newest Relationships Education scheme has been delayed because of the coronavirus lockdown. More time may be allowed for discussions with parents and teachers and all involved. That means there is time to ensure that the material used in our Catholic schools – and the training given to teachers – is truly and authentically steeped in the full truth of the Catholic Church. The new Directory has come at a providential time.
     
    Pope Francis has said that gender theory has a "dangerous" cultural aim of erasing all distinctions between men and women, male and female, which would "destroy at its roots" God's most basic plan for human beings: "diversity, distinction. It would make everything homogenous, neutral. It is an attack on difference, on the creativity of God and on men and women."