Saturday, August 13, 2005

Sex Ed and Modesty

The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, in an Instruction entitled "Educational Guidance in Human Love - Outlines for sex education," had this to say about the importance and role of modesty in sex education:


90. Modesty, a fundamental component of the personality, may be considered - on the ethical level - as the vigilant knowledge which defends the dignity of man, woman and authentic love. It tends to react to certain attitudes and to curb behaviour which stains the dignity of the person. It is a necessary and effective means of controlling the instincts, making authentic love flower, integrating the affective-sexual life in the harmonions picture of the person. Modesty has great pedagogic weight and must therefore be respected. Children and young people will thus learn to respect the body itself as a gift from God, member of Christ and temple of the Holy Spirit; they will learn to resist the evil which surrounds them and to have a vision and clear imagination to seek to express a truly human love with all its spiritual components when they meet people in friendship.

91. To such an end, concrete and attractive models of virtue are to be presented, the aesthetic sense be developed, inspiring a taste for the beauty present in nature, in art and in moral life; the young are to be educated to assimilate a system of sensible and spiritual values in an unselfish impetus of faith and love.

92. Friendship is the height of affective maturation and differs from mere cameraderie by its interior dimension, by communication which allows and fosters true communion, by its reciprocal generosity and its stability. Education for friendship can become a factor of extraordinary importance in the making of the personality in its individual and social dimensions.

93. The bonds of friendship which unite the young of both sexes contribute both to understanding and to reciprocal respect when they are maintained within the limits of normal affective expression. If however they become or tend to become manifestations of a genital character, they lose the authentic meaning of mature friendship, prejudice the relationships involved and the future prospects with regard to an eventual marriage, and render the individuals concerned less attentive to a possible call to the consecrated life.

This teaching on modesty is echoed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. For example, No. 2521 says that: "Purity requires modesty, an integral part of temperance. Modesty protects the intimate center of the person. It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity."

And No. 2522 says that: "Modesty protects the mysteryof persons and their love. It encourages patience and moderation in loving relationships...Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet."

Bearing this Magisterial teaching in mind, let us examine what one parish in Manchester, New Hampshire considers authentic sex education. The following is from a Catholic layman who resides near the Queen City and who often attends Holy Mass in the city:

Transfiguration Parish in Manchester, New Hampshire, which is led by Msgr. Paul Bouchard, maintains a website which contains links to various other websites geared toward teens and sexual matters. It seems that this parish is promoting immodesty while feigning to promote chastity. The websites which the parish is promoting are designed to undermine modesty and to encourage teens to discuss matters which are highly sensitive and which should be addressed by parents and not by total strangers.

One of the websites which Transfiguration Parish is promoting is: At this website, one reads that: "Pam Stenzel travels the world talking to teens and their parents about sex...They talk about their experiences, they talk about character, they talk about STD's, pregnancy, boundaries, friends, respect, body parts...It's all real, it's all true. Sex is a big deal, it is a topic we all deal with at some point, and we are all a result of the act...whether we like it or not."

This last line is particularly offensive as it represents an attempt to justify talking about things which belong to a very special and private sphere. Most of us are fully cognizant of the fact that we were conceived as a result of the sex act. But we don't use this as an excuse to discuss - and in graphic detail no less - sexual matters with teens we don't even know. This sphere belongs to parents and not total strangers. One has to wonder why some Catholics are so motivated to talk about private sexual matters with teens. Perhaps this is a recruitment tool?

Another website being promoted by Transfiguration Parish is: This website's title is obviously a play on the words "No more whore." The website discusses various sexual matters in graphic detail, including these subjects: "What about a blowjob"?, "Lesbian kisses at parties"?, and "Is everyone doing it"?

Still another website has xxx in the title. It is obvious to me that Transfiguration Parish is engaged in an effort to undermine modesty in our youth and to introduce them to sexual matters which rob these children of their innocence.

This parish - and the Diocese of Manchester as a whole - is in dire need of prayer.


I will leave it to you dear reader to determine whether or not Transfiguration Parish is conforming to Magisterial teaching on sex education and the role of modesty in such teaching. Can we say that websites which discuss "lesbian kisses" and "blowjobs" (and which carry photos such as the one above which includes the caption "No screwin around") are really promoting modesty and the Church's authentic teaching on human sexuality? What do you think?

The website for the Parish of the Transfiguration:


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