The Vatican recently rolled out a new sex education course designed to help parents and educators talk to teens about sex and counter messages on social media.
The course, published by the Vatican Council for the Family, and called “The Meeting Point: The Adventure of Love,” aims to promote a dialogue between young people and their parents and teachers regarding sexuality.
The program was developed as one step toward answering the problem of the deterioration of marriage and the family put forward at the Sept. 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and the Oct. 2015 Vatican Synod on the Family.
“One of the most delicate tasks that parents have to face in the education of their children is their emotional formation, so they can respond to the most decisive vocation for every human being: the vocation to love,” wrote Archbishop Vincent Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
“This vocation to love is the fundamental task of parents in the family. In accomplishing their work, they can count on the help of different moral and educational communities: schools and men and women teachers, as well as on the cooperation of the other members of the church community: the parish priests, the catechists and other Christian faithful,” stated the March 21 letter on the program.
The project was over-viewed in a presentation by Bishop Carlos Simon Vazquez, Undersecretary to the Pontifical Council for the Family and Dr. Anthony and Celia Crespo at press conferences July 26 and 27 at World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow.
The course is available on the website www.affectiveformation.org in five different languages, including English and Spanish. Bishop Simon said they hope to expand the languages offered in the future.
Originally conceived for the classroom, the online program was expanded to be easily accessible to families or other groups. The curriculum consists of six units, with four or five sections each. The student materials include passages from Scripture, elements for discussion and written answers. Each unit section is accompanied by an educator guide and options for supplementary activities, such as film clips with discussion points reinforcing lessons.
“Not only the school program is enriched by this project, but also every home, each parish, and each association will have at its disposal a tool to help young people in the important quest for happiness and meaning in their lives,” stated Bishop Simon.
Developed in large part by the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, the materials are meant to be a response to Pope Francis’ call for a renewed and urgent attention to education within the family, as presented in his March 19 letter, Amoris Laeticia (The Joy of Love).
“In this context, the Pope clearly speaks in favor of sex education,” said Bishop Simon. He quoted Amoris Laetitia: “It is not easy to approach the issue of sex education in an age when sexuality tends to be trivialized and impoverished. It can only be seen within the broader framework of an education for love, for mutual self-giving.”
Bishop Paglia sees the new Vatican sex education program as a way to counteract the current “cultural, legislative and educational” programs challenging the Christian conception of the body, marriage and sex.
With the increased prevalence of media and social networking, teens “are exposed to a variety of information concerning affectivity in general and the exercise of sexuality in particular,” wrote Bishop Paglia. “In many cases, these same young people have no criteria for discerning the truth of good human sexuality from the emotivism introduced in many of today’s channels of information and formation.”
The project is unfinished, Bishop Simon noted, emphasizing two developments of the program: the attention that needs to be given to the young themselves and the attention that needs to be given to the teachers as well.
“Hopefully the course presented,” the bishop said, “will help young people to experience the joy of love in its full dimension, as the Pope invites those who will form the future families of the world and be the protagonists not only of the adventure of love but of the civilization of love in the coming years.”