This The Interim’s fourth consecutive Insight to be devoted to schools and education.  Together with other articles printed in The Interim from January 1991 onwards, they treat of various themes which intertwine and interact.  For an overview of these see the Index on this page.

Everyone will agree that as a pro-life, pro-family paper our concerns with education are fully warranted.  How can we hope for change unless the schools become sources of strength for renewal and rebuilding of respect for life and the family.

Our first theme started with last January’s report of the use of a contraceptive/condom questionnaires in one particular school.  This discussion continued and expanded over the following months and stayed with us right up to the current issue (see front page)

That subject also led us to examine other related school issues such as sex abuse programs, home schooling, parental rights, as well as religious education and sex education in Catholic schools.

In September we added another feature, namely the new grade school series called Impressions.  It traumatizes little children with horror stories and New Age fantasies.

This edition of Insight returns to the main subject introduced by the previous two articles of Father John McGoey, “The Catholic teachers’ sex-ed fiasco in Ontario” (August Insight) and “The poisoned well” (September, pages 13 and 16).  Both deal with the disastrous sex-ed philosophy propagated by the Family Education program of St. Jerome’s College, Kitchener, Ontario.

In this third article, Fr. McGoey discusses the theological foundation of this school’s most famous product, the current Catholic sex-ed program known as Fully Alive.  The rest of Insight also focuses on this program.



January 1991

Alphonse de Valk “Sex, ed the case of one separate school”

Doreen Beagan :Sex education is anti-education, says author”

February 1991 – Insight

Jakki Jeffs “Our young people betrayed”

Book Review by “Decent Exposure: How to teach about sex” by Connie Marshner

David Dooley

David Dooley “The contraceptive mentality” How rejection of Humanae Vitae helps produce it.

Allan Garneau “Watch for Thumbs Down!”

Pat Hansard “Alberta school principal, staff take bold step”

March 1991

Michael Otis “Trustees back peddle on policy”

Staff “OECTA retains pro-abortion speaker”

David Dooley “Dissenting Catholics: a new sect”

Staff “CCCC member pushes condoms”

April 1991

Alphonse de Valk “Sex education condoms revisited”

Editorial “”Condom controversy return”

Jan Rossiter “Parents as teachers”

Brian Taylor “Education Ministry probes home schooling”

Allan Garneau “Time to end sexual abuse prevention programs”

Pat Hansard “BC reviews child abuse courses”

April 1991 – Insight

Frank M. Kennedy “Contraceptives Trojan Horse”

Staff “A contraceptive primer”

Teresa Mohan “A Public Health Nurse speaks out”

Michael Otis “ICE and condoms”

David Dooley “Feminists active among Catholic teachers”

Book Reviews

By Sue Careless “Has sex education failed our teenagers?” – By Dinah Richards and Anne Newman

“Sex Education the final plague” by Randy Engel

May 1991

Alphonse de Valk “Condomania invades Catholic schools”

Regina Farrell “Condoms in Montreal”

Staff “Moral authorities reject condoms”

Staff “What the government doesn’t tell you about AIDS or about condoms”

Peter Hopkins “Drive for condoms in Ireland”

June 1991

Michael Otis “Archbishop says ‘No’ to condoms”

Text of Archbishop’s statement,

“Sex education a scourge readers say”

David Dooley “Does Vatican prohibit sex-ed?”

Doreen Beagen “Parent Power in Action”

August 1991 – Insight

David Dooley “Ontario Separate Schools: a report card”

Frank Kennedy “What religion is being taught in Catholic schools?”

Brian Taylor “A defence of Randal Engel”

Elaine Murray “What do the popes mean”

Linda Britton “Chastity education instead of sex ed”

Fr. John McGoey “The Catholic teachers’ sex-ed fiasco in Ontario”

Various Short reports on parental rights; MSSB and AIDS;

Montreal Board and condoms; Nova Scotia schools.

Sue Rodgerson “Shift in indoctrination, (Hamilton) trustee warns”

Fr. J.H. Gillis “True ‘sex-ed’ – cultivating purity in modesty”

September 1991

Michael Otis “RC school officials press for condom policy”

Maryanne Pemberton

“Parents: Watch what your children are being taught”

(New Age reading texts called Impression)

Regina Farrell “The loneliness of the long distance parent”

Doreen Beagan “Parent power in action,” Part II

Fr. John McGoey “The poisoned well” (Family Life Education at St. Jerome’s

College, Kitchener, Ontario and “Fully Alive”)

Prologue to “Fully Alive

Alphonse de Valk

Currently, there is in use in Ontario Catholic schools a sex-ed program entitled Fully Alive!

Fully Alive is supposed to be suitable for Catholics, but in the opinion of many parents and parties who have studies it, it isn’t.

Why not?

Because Fully Alive is a sex-ed program which presupposes that somebody in some other course will provide the required moral religious context.  But as matters stand, the existing Religious Education programs do not deal with moral issues in any depth…Moreover, the idea of such a separation is itself erroneous.

To put it into a nutshell Fully Alive is the product of those educators who believe that, sexuality and sexual activity can and should be taught divorced from religious moral considerations.

These people also believe that the more technical information is provided, the better, and the earlier the better.  Add to this a firm dose of feminist insistence on role reversals between boys and girls and one has a program which is destructive of childhood.

The strange part of the story is that Fully Alive is approved by the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops, and is being published by MacMillan-Cormier on their behalf.  All royalties go to the Conference.

In the December ’91 Insight, we hope to throw some light on how this has come about.  But in this issue and that of November we want to restrict ourselves primarily to the nature of the Fully Alive program itself.

Fully Alive’s Foreword

We welcome any letters or submissions which throw further light on the issue.

Fully Alive’s Foreword,” was written by Bishop Marcel Gervais, at the time Auxiliary Bishop of London.  Today he is the Archbishop of Ottawa.  For convenience sake articles will refer to him as “Bishop,” that being the office he held at the time of writing the Foreword.

Bishop Gervais had specialized in Scripture studies and directed the Living Word Centre in London, Ontario, before he was appointed Auxiliary Bishop of London in June 1980.  Some time thereafter he was delegated the task of supervising a program on sex education for Ontario’s Catholic schools, a hotly debated subject because of the totally inadequate and harmful programs being put forward by American publishers.

In his article in this issue, Father McGoey analyzes this “Foreword” and finds it wanting.


The Foreword, in turn is followed by an introduction.  This reveals without the slightest embarrassment the intellectual source of the program.  We can’t do better than quote the text:

“The beginnings of Fully Alive can be found at the Lakehead Roman Catholic Separate School Board, where in 1968 Father Leo LaFreniere developed and guided the first Catholic program of Family Life Education in Ontario.  From his pioneering efforts, Family Life Education spread rapidly through the province.  During the later 1960s and early 1970s, Roman Catholic Boards such as Waterloo, Halton, London-Middlesex, Ottawa, Carleton and Metropolitan Toronto developed programs for their schools.  The importance and value of Family Life Education has ensured that this pattern of growth has continued.  At present, most Roman Catholic school boards in Ontario have initiated programs.

“To accompany this development of programs, efforts were also made to provide teachers with specialized training.  Early institutes in Family Life Education were held at Ottawa University, the Lakehead University, and St. Jerome’s College at Waterloo University.  More recently courses have been offered at the University of St. Michael’s College and at St. Augustine’s Seminary.  Large numbers of teachers and other progressional, such as social workers and public health nurses, have benefited from these initiatives in professional development in the field of Family Education.”

As readers are aware, the above institutes in Family Life Education, which dominated the Ontario scene for almost two decades have been described by Fr. McGoey in his August and September articles as disastrous and an utter fiasco from a moral point of view.

Other critiques

It must not be thought that Fr. McGoey is the only one who laments the Family Life program.  At the time, presentations were made to the then Bishop of Hamilton, the Most Rev. Paul Reding (who died December, 1983), whose diocese included the Kitchener-Waterloo area by fellow academics of the Family Education Department at St. Jerome’s who were scandalized at the proceedings in this department.

This in turn, led the largest “client” of the program, the Archdiocese of Toronto (with 475 schools, 14,270 teachers and 232,792 students in 1990), to quietly make its own investigation.  A report was submitted in the spring of 1983.  Based on an examination of textbooks which students were required to use, the report concluded in the subdued language of the academic that it:

“is now clear [that] the values presented in the introductory text and in the writings of [at least] one of the lecturers scheduled for the advanced course are incompatible with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church…”

And a little further on:

“There is…sufficient material to indicate that [this] teaching…is in direct contradiction to that of the Catholic Church is being presented.”

It was only after 1983 that a move was made towards preparations for alternate courses in Toronto, at St. Augustine’s Seminary and St. Michael’s, but that would take time.  For one thing, St. Augustine’s had its own internal problems which were not resolved until the fall of 1984.

At any rate, St. Jerome’s Family Education Program continued to influence large numbers of teachers and does so to this day.

There is no evidence that Bishop Marcel Gervais had any idea how bad the teachers were at St. Jerome’s.  This lack of knowledge led him to believe, as Father McGoey pointed out, that he “could win them over to his side.”

But as the late Msgr. Peter Somerville told Fr. McGoey at a meeting of the Metropolitan Toronto Separate School Board (MSSB), John Theis, successor to Dr. Peter Naus as Dean of Psychology at St. Jerome’s College admitted that St. Jerome’s did not teach Catholic doctrine in Family Life Education.

The Bishops of Toronto, Fr. McGoey says, shown the text used in St. Jerome’s training course, were aghast at its pornographic nature.  London Bishop John Sherlock, in the office of Fr. Angus Macdougall, secretary to the Ontario Bishops Conference examined the book, took it to the Bishop John Reding of Hamilton who reported, “I had to keep it in the brown envelope in case someone saw me reading it.  I almost had to go to confessions when I finished.”  Then: “Get these guys (St. Jerome’s teachers) off my back.  Start a course in Toronto and I will send my people there.”

We take the story from here and ask our readers to carefully examine the following articles.  They concern an issue of the highest priority and importance.  All of us must work towards a change in this area.  Our December issue will feature many more criticisms.

The theological shortfall of Fully Alive

Fr. John H. McGoey

In his first two articles (August and September Interim), the author discussed the pitfalls of sex-ed in general and the disastrous sex-ed program for teachers at St. Jerome’s college, Kitchener, in particular.  In this article, Fr. McGoey deals with the Foreword, written by Bishop Marcel Gervais, to the Sully Alive sex education program used in Ontario Catholic schools today.

See also “Prologue to Fully Alive” Editor

Summary of Foreword

The Foreword of grades one to four reveals surprising theological shortfalls.  It is basically divided in five general sections: introduction, theological foundations, original sin, modern mentality and conclusion.

Book of Wisdom

A scripture man, Bishop Gervais opens the first section of his Foreword with a note from Wisdom, 11.24-26: “For you are all that exists, you abhor nothing you have made…because all things are yours, Lord, lover of life.”

“This beautiful prayer on the love of God,” the Bishop states, “expresses well the spirit that animates Fully Alive FA; the Lord is the lover of life, and of human life especially…”

He goes on to say, “Catholic parents want to give their children this godly love of life.  They are trying to raise their children by an example of selfless love and generosity…”

He adds, “The publication of Fully Alive is an act of confidence in our parents, our children, and our teachers.  Our confidence is well-founded: large numbers of parents have been consulted and the wisdom of their recommendations has enriched the program; the response of the children has been carefully weighed; our teachers have also been heard and their insight and experience have been used throughout the program…”

The Bishop’s Theological Foundation centers on the notion that God made men and women in His image.  “It is the nature of God,” the Bishop states, “to love.”  “To love is to see what is good and to want to be one with it.”  It is also the nature of God “to know, to recognize and to understand and it is God’s nature to create and support life.”

As for sin, “its profoundest effects are recorded in the first pages of Sacred Scripture” and some of these threaten our calling to be “images of God.”  The Bishop states that the first effect was “the shame our first parents experienced,” and that we are still constantly dealing with it.  “We fear the discovery of the ugliness we harbour within.”  This effect of original sin, he states, “ruins more marriages than any other cause.”


But here we come to a first criticism, namely the difference between what the Bishop says FA accomplishes, and what it does in fact.  Out of 127 teaching topics, only one mentions children’s relationship to God, their need to love and serve their Creator.  How can a teacher stress the importance of relationships while omitting the most important one, to God, on which every good relationship depends?  How can children learn to rebel against “the cheapness of life,” if in Fully Alive they are not taught to be good, strong and loving like God whose Son taught them to call Him Father?

I have a second criticism.

The Wisdom quote only illustrates one aspect of God.  But there is another aspect.  In Scripture we read that only a handful were spared in the Flood.  Elsewhere, one reads how for lack of “ten just men” Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed.  And during the 40-year-long Exodus, because of their complaints and infidelities against God and Moses, thousands were wiped out for lack of faith.

This aspect is missing and leads to a sense of unreality which runs through the five pages of text.  For example, the Bishop gratuitously claims that Catholic parents want “to give their children this godly love and generosity…to give their children the proper attitudes toward sexuality and mature personal relationships.”

I wish it were true!

In the Theological Foundation section one finds fuzzy theology and murky language, riddled with assumptions.  Bishop Gervais makes no distinction between God’s plans before or after the fall of Adam and Eve.  (Genesis, Chap. 3).  Unfallen man, made in God’s image, was perfectly loving and lovable.  But this was not the case after the fall.  When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, nature rebelled against them.  Fallen man was cut off from Heaven, intellect darkened, the will weakened, with a strong inclination to evil, subject to sickness and death, compelled to earn his living by the sweat of his brow, to bring forth children in labour.

Bishop Gervais states correctly, “Our duty, our destiny, and our greatest dignity is to know and love God.”  But once more it is a statement found nowhere in the texts of FA itself.  God’s grace, with our power to love, makes it possible to love even the enemies who persecute and calumniate us.  Bur our fulfillment does not depend on the love of those who will not love.  Love is a one-way street and the emotionally immature who abuse enemies, will use their friends.


Bishop Gervais says that man and woman are made in the image of God, but he then misreads what this means.  He attributes to God human characteristics and them omits to state what man’s real problem is.

It is not the Divine nature to love, as Bishop Gervais states.  Instead, God IS love, as He IS Goodness, Truth and Beauty.  Our personal love is God dwelling in us.  On the other hand we do not have to see that God is good in order to love Him.  God’s goodness is self-manifest; only the willful blindness of sinners prevents us from seeing it.  God of His nature is absolutely, totally lovable.  He does not ask to be loved but commands us to love Him for our essential well being.  If we fail to do so we remain unfulfilled and love no one, not even ourselves.

Similarly, it is not the divine nature to recognize and to understand, as the Bishop writes.  Need an all-knowing God be understanding?  Does it make Him sound reasonable, more like us?

Although created in His image, as human we are infinitely less than God.  We need to recognize and understand.  While God knows us, “…we are, like Adam and Eve, inclined to hide from God and each other.”  That is why we hide even from ourselves and crave others to see us as we wish to be seen rather than as we are,

Effects of original sin

As for original sin here, too, we find confusing notions.  As a consequence, the Bishop fails to grasp the reality of what is required of us in living up to God’s calling,

Bishop Gervias states, “Some of the effects of original sin directly threaten our calling to be ‘images of God.’  He adds, “the first effect of original sin recorded by the Scriptures is the shame that our first parents experienced before God and each other.”

In my opinion, shame is not a sin.  Rather it is an emotional reaction of the proud.  They were comfortable enough with each other to disobey, but hid from God in shame and fear of being caught and punished.

The Bishop states, “They hid because they could no longer fully see that God was good,” and that “They were ashamed of being human, ashamed of their genitals, which would create other human beings.  Just as the ability to see goodness is the basis of love, the inability to see goodness is the basis of hate.”

In my opinion the source of the trouble was their free-willed act of disobedience, a personal sinful act.  They had disobeyed and therefore, they had lost control of themselves and their world.  It was because of an act of their will, rather than any inability to see God, that made them hide, and, conversely, it is not any ability to see good which draws people to God but rather it is unshakeable faith in God’s love that inspires the self-discipline, virtue and chastity which makes us what He wants us to be.  To face the Truth who is God, one must be able to face painful reality.  The graces of redemption enable those of good will to “take up your cross daily and follow Me.”

Bishop Gervais attributes broken marriages to Original Sin.  Bur original sin is taken care of by baptism.  Again, it is loveless ill-will, self-centered unloving, which is the source of marriage breakup.

Anti-life mentality

Bishop Gervais rightly deplores the “anti-fertility mentality” and “the anti-life disease…the twisted conviction that sexual pleasure is an absolute right…”  But we find the same theme here as above.  The Bishop ignores that this anti-life mentality has its origin in materialistic greed and lust, which, as the Gospel of Mark (Chapter 7), states comes forth from the heart of each individual person.

Parents making every day into Christmas, spoil their deliberately limited families, making them addicts of constant excitement and unmerited rewards.  Starving children in the Third World are less prone to suicide than the over-indulged, self-centered brats of North America.

Bishop Gervais rightly insists “Our times demand that a special effort be made to support parents in forming their children for a life of chastity and fidelity.”  But such education is omitted in Fully Alive in favour of the anatomy and physiology of sex.  Today’s children live in a world in which almost every influence claims that chastity asks the impossible.  Children subjected to this must be taught the meaning of human sex and the meaning of human weakness and sin.  They must be taught that unmarried, teenage sex is neither normal, healthy nor responsible.  Nor are single parenting and divorce or separation all the result of tragic circumstances, regardless of the compassion with which responsible society must deal with them.

“Fully Dead”

Bishop Gervais insists that while Fully Alive is a religious program, it is not the religious program.  The moment that Fully Alive ceases to be a fully religious program it is fully dead.

The principles behind Catholic Family Life Education should be essentially religious.  They are of the essence of individual personal relationship to God and neighbour.  The Ten Commandments are basic, for nothing is more essential to understanding of all-pervasive sexuality and active sex than living the 6th and 9th commandments.  To omit these from Family Life Education on the pretence of reserving them solely to Religious Education is a travesty and the fundamental mistake of the authors of Fully Alive.

Bishop Gervias believes the publication of Fully Alive is an act of confidence in parents, children and teachers, so he is not deceiving but deceived.  Unfortunately, FA is not an act of confidence but rather a denial of the moral teaching of the Church.  Numerous parents, highly invested in their children, tried vainly to be heard by the bishops before publication.  They could not get the time of day nor could I, after working in this field 40 of 54 years of my priestly life.

How can Fully Alive “be a genuine support to parents in the Christian formation of their children” when is contains so little moral teaching?  In this respect, Bishop Gervais’ Foreword accurately reflects the weakness of the school text.

Christian readers must be struck by the continuous textual allusion to the great love of God for children when their inherently loving response to Him is virtually unmentioned.

Never once is it suggested that all unloving is sin and all sin is unloving, nor what sin really is and does to the sinner’s power to love.

A primary educators of their children parents do have the right to expect support from Catholic schools.  But Fully Alive, SIECUS (Sex Information and Education Council of the United States), inspired, does not provide this assistance.

It can be categorically stated that Fully Alive is NOT “directed throughout by Catholic teaching, and many truths of faith and morals…” as claimed in the Foreword.

Next month, the Themes of Fully Alive.

Parents may opt out

The following letter, to two in Oshawa, Ontario, is from Cardinal Edouard Gagnon.  At the time of writing he was President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Vatican City.

March 15, 1990

Dear Friends;

I am in receipt of your kind letter of February 13, 1990, regarding the right of parents in the education of their children.

It might be that a particular bishop or even a Conference of Bishops judge that a sex education course be offered in the Catholic school.  It could also happen that the civil government may require such courses.  However, no ecclesiastical or civil authority may legitimately mandate that every pupil in the school take such a course even though this course may seem to them to be completely beneficial to the children.

Regarding sex education, the Church teaches that: (1) parents have the basic and inalienable right and duty to educate their own children, and (2) the school is only acting in a subsidiary role, by reason of the permission given it by the parents (cf. the Apostolic Exhortation Familaris Consortio, Ns. 36, 37,40;) and Charter of the Rights of the Family, Art. 5; Educational Guidance in Human Love, Outlines for Sex Education, Ns. 15-17, 48-59, 69).

Certainly the principle of subsidiary would presuppose that there were some type of consultation with parents about the choice of a text for sex education in the Catholic school.  However, if the text finally chosen is not in agreement with the moral and religious convictions of certain parents, it is the right of these parents, and the obligation of the Catholic school to respect this right, to have their children excused from the sex education class.  The parents may then, as is their right, teach their children themselves….

Some suggestions I would make for texts are:

  1. 1. for parents: Know Your Body, A Family Guide to Sexuality & Fertility, by Charles W. Norris, M.D., and Jeanne B. Waible Owen, published by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.,
  2. for adolescents: Love and Life, A Christian Sexual Morality guide for Teens, (with Students’ Guide and Parents’ Guide), by Coleen Kelly Mast, published by Ignatius Press;
  3. for teens: The Gift of Sexuality, A Guide for Young People, by the Rev. Robert J. Fox, published by Our Sunday Visitor, Inc.

With the hope that you will find the above information helpful, I remain with every prayerful best wish.

Sincerely in Jesus and Mary

Edouard Cardinal Gagnon, p.s.s.


Rights of parents

“The question of sex education, especially as regards programs used in schools, becomes a matter of concern to Catholic parents.  The principles governing this area have been succinctly, but clearly, enunciated in Familiaris Consortio.  First among these principles is the need to recognize that sex education is a basic right and duty of parents themselves.  They have to be helped to become increasingly more effective in fulfilling this task.  Other educational agencies have an important role, but always in a subordinate manner with due subordination to the rights of the parents.

Pope John Paul II speaking to the U.S. Bishops, Los Angeles, Sept. 16, 1987.

A critique of “Fully Alive

Dr. Bernhard Meyer

Earlier versions of this article appeared in The Orator, published in Ottawa, and as part of a flyer published by the Ontario Association of Catholic Families.

Fully Alive is the ‘Family Life Education program’ for Catholic schools sponsored by the Ontario Conference of Catholic Bishops (OCCB).

It includes explicit sex education beginning in Grade 1.

The program has been found objectionable by many parents, but their voices have not been heard.  I would like to make the following points.

Part I

Lacking Catholic moral teaching

Although the program imparts religious information about marriage and the goodness of sexuality as part of the whole person, Fully Alive is not Catholic.

The program lacks the most essential and basic Catholic knowledge about good and evil, its application and practical use for sexual behaviour and the Church’s means of assistance through the Sacraments.

The attempt is made to justify the lack of any really Roman Catholic context by saying that Fully Alive is meant to be accompanied by a Catechism program but there is no evidence that any program in the schools fulfills that task.

The authors of Fully Alive do not mention that our sexual body is truly called to union with God, that the body should be described as the holy temple of God, and that our sexual body is meant to live the divine life.  Physical sexuality in the program is removed from the realm of the morally significant.  The program does not provide formation in chastity and sexual stability.

Children are constantly taught that sexuality is good, but not that it is possible to abuse their bodies and their sexuality in their thinking and in their actions, nor that this is definitely sinful, nor that help can be had from knowledge of Catholic teaching and from use of the Sacraments.

Although original sin is mentioned in the Foreword of the Teachers’ book on page iii, and of the Family books on page ii, there is no practical use made of this basic Christian understanding of our human existence.  There is no mention of man’s fallen nature, nor that a child’s will is weakened in resisting sexual temptations and actual misuse of their bodies.

Although people are constantly subject to temptations by the world, the flesh and the devil, Fully Alive speaks merely about the influence of the world, particularly the media and other persons.

Here one may ask: what is the point of teaching explicit, arousing sexual knowledge to the group if the much more important teaching that they must not unnecessarily touch their own and other’s private parts, and that they must not indulge in sexual fantasies, is not provided?

Up to grade 6, Fully Alive present sexual activity to the students as if it only exists between husband and wife.  There is no mention of the possible misuse of it by oneself or with others.  Yet the child is bound to be exposed to this through magazines, TV, peers or even by the extra-marital relationships of family acquaintances or neighbours.

It should be noted that even with fully-Catholic moral teaching, the exposure of children in a group setting to blunt sex instruction remains very wrong.  It is a violation of the child’s right to protection from seduction.

The authors plan that every boy and girl will know fertility awareness after completing Fully Alive. But the knowledge of Fertility Awareness by the unmarried does not mean formation in chastity.

Knowledge is not virtue.  Knowledge without formation becomes another dangerous temptation for the young people.

Part II

Explicitness of Fully Alive

In the Fully Alive program, explicit sex education begins in the first Grade.

In Grade 1, the teachers are directed to “Discuss the story with the children.  Ask them: What did Ann’s mother [in the story] tell her [Ann] about boys and girls being different?  (Review the terms: penis, scrotum, vulva, vagina.  Mention that the vagina is inside a girl’s body….The vulva is the folds of skin on the outside of the body.  A boy’s scrotum is under his penis.”  (Teacher’s manual, p. 74)

What is the purpose of such a review if not to cause the children to memorize this information and to get familiar with the meaning of the terms?  Does the partial description of the body parts not tempt the children to try to visualize or want to see each other’s private parts?

The same explicit lessons are repeated in Grade 2 (teacher’s book, p. 65 and 66)

Grade 4

In Grade 4, the teachers are directed to give an oral presentation of explicit information which is not included in the Student’s or the Family books. (see the Teachers’ manual pp. 59-60, under Discovery):
”The Students’ text do not include an explicit physical description of intercourse, but this information can be presented orally as indicated below…In your discussion with the students the following information should be included…” (p.59) i.e., a description of “The husband’s penis fits inside his wife’s vagina.”  During sexual intercourse, sperm cells from the husband leave his body through his penis and go into his wife’s body.  The sperm cells travel through the wife’s vagina and into her uterus.” (p.60)

Meanwhile, the Students’ books state: “They can hold each other so closely that sperm cells from the husband leave his body and enter his wife’s body.  This special sign of love is called sexual intercourse…this is a big responsibility” (p.46, Grade 4)

Grade 5

In Grade 5, the following information is given in the Students’ book (Family books Grade 5 and 6 were not yet available by September 4, 1990):

“At certain times, semen can leave the man’s body through the urethra; this is called an ejaculation.  But an ejaculation cannot happen unless an erection occurs first. (This does not mean that every time a man has an erection that an ejaculation has to follow).  An erection occurs when blood flows into the soft tissue of the penis, and causes the penis to become firm and larger.  Afterwards, the blood flows back out of the tissues of the penis.”  Then the penis becomes soft again. (p.57)

On page 65 of the Students’ books, nocturnal emissions and wet dreams are discussed.  Is such information proper for a mixed class for girls and boys ten to eleven years old?  Might not the girls be tempted to ask the boys how these experiences feel?  Also, the boys are left without any assistance regarding the dreams.  Would it not be much more appropriate for parents to receive instruction regarding these events and how to talk about them to their sons in the context of Catholic morality?

In Grade 6, the Students’ books progress to an increasingly blunt description of sexual intercourse:

“Sometimes the soft tissue of the man’s penis fills with blood and the penis becomes firm and larger.  This is called an erection.  At this time semen can leave the man’s body through the urethra.  This process is called ejaculation.  The amount of semen that passes out of the body is small, but it contains millions of sperm cells.  During an act of sexual intercourse the husband’s penis is erect in order to fit inside the wife’s vagina.  After ejaculation, the sperm are released in the woman’s vagina, and from here they move into the Uterus, and then into the Fallopian tubes.  If the woman has just ovulated, an ovum is waiting, it is very likely that one of the sperm cells will penetrate the ovum and fertilize it.  When this happens, a new human life begins (p.63).”

What is wrong with Fully Alive?

The following extract is taken from a letter written by Mr. & Mrs. Paul and Janey Loder to Mrs. Catherine Tunney, Chairwoman, Durham RC Separate School Board in Oshawa, Ontario dated March 31, 1990, objecting to the sex-ed program Fully Alive, for their children.

Firstly – it promulgates a decidedly feminist agenda which is hardly a balanced representation of contemporary Canadian family life.  One of the most obvious concerns here is the almost exclusive role reversals of male and female in both child and adult representations.

Secondly – This programme is essentially secular; there is some God talk and some mention is made of ‘values,’ but basically it isn’t very different from public school programmes.  As one internationally-known critic, James Likoudis, has stated, “It’s the public school programme sprinkled with holy water.

a)      There are no examples taken from the lives of the Saints.  Our faith is teeming with a rich heritage of virtue and holy example of purity and chastity in many saints that are models for youth, even modern ones from this century.

What about emulating Jesus and Mary and Joseph as role models for the family?  Fully Alive doesn’t do that.  What about recourse to the Guardian Angels and the Archangels?  What about Consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary; or recourse to the Sacraments, especially Penance and the Holy Eucharist?

Fully Alive doesn’t do that either.

b)      Nowhere in this programme are the children encouraged to avail themselves of the tremendous graces of the Holy Mass and the Rosary to help them with serious moral decisions and to assist them in cultivating the virtue of chastity and personal holiness.  These are all sorely lacking.  Fully Alive could be a public school sexuality manual.

c)      Moreover, the public health nurse is called in to give the clinical information as teachers see fit; for all we know she could be using texts supplied by Planned Parenthood when she gives her anatomical dissertations.  In the senior grades we have the “AIDS” programme supplied by the Public Health Dept. in which the gross activities and perversions of homosexuals are candidly discussed!  This is Catholic education?

We think not.

Thirdly – classroom sex education desensitizes and coarsens children to the delicacy and sacredness of sexual union.  Furthermore, it constitutes an intrusion and violation of the ‘latency period’ of development in young children between six and twelve years.

Dr. Melvin Anchell, M.D., A.S.P.P., author of Killers of Children: A Psychoanalytic Look at Sex Education, and an internationally known physician and psychiatrist specializing in the treatment of children and adults who have been damaged by sex education and pornography, maintains that sex education for children is anathema to (1) normal psychosexual development in young people; (2) anathema to fundamental psychological principles regarding human sexuality; and (3) anathema to the advancement of civilization which depends on the “curtailment of raw sexual and aggressive energies.”

On a recent TV programme, Dr. Anchell was asked what the difference was between a public school sex education programme and a Catholic programme of sex education.  He replied that it could be compared with strychnine and arsenic; one works faster than the other but they both kill you!

There is no way that children as young as the third and fourth grades need to know the intricacies of sexual intercourse.  There is the very real risk of inciting sinful thoughts.  This is also a waste of time and resources and pointless case of information overload.

When a programme as sex education such as Fully Alive is simply inserted into the curriculum, whether parents want it or not, impacting on all children of all parents alike, parents have lost control and are no longer the primary educators of their children.

Androgyny in Fully Alive

Sylvia MacEachern

Androgyny is a concept developed by the feminist movement which claims that gender is not fixed or biologically based, but is fluid.  In consequence the ‘whole’ personality is seen as an amalgam of male and female characteristics.

…The real concern with Fully Alive is its subtle promotion of androgyny.  Compilers of the texts have gone to inordinate lengths to ensure that children aren’t exposed to one smidgen of so called ‘sexual-stereotyping.’  In other words, any activity that might imply that there are societal roles normally based upon one’s God-given gender is subjected to the feminist process of role-reversal.  Page after page of the children’s texts is filled with examples in which traditionally accepted roles of male or female are blatantly reversed.

Thus father, not mother, discusses with Peter and Lucy the expected sibling’s “special home” (uterus); the males do the cooking, mom is working; little girls build model airplanes – and on and on.

A grade two text illustration is perhaps one of the most sinister means of indoctrinating children towards that counter-cultural concept of androgyny.  Under the title, “Parents do all sorts of work at home.”  The picture depicts one very healthy, happy looking man changing the diaper of one very healthy, happy looking baby as one very healthy, happy looking woman walks in the door carrying two bags of groceries with an ease that would put any good man to shame.  Furthermore, in this ‘Catholic’ series, whose texts bear an unrestrained interest and focus on ‘the world’ and the glory of work, only one mention is made of Jesus – and this to note that He worked with His father and helped His mother wit the cleaning and cooking!  To add insult to injury, the priestly vocation is depicted as a mere ‘job’ – and the priests, like everyone else is just one more ‘world caretaker.’

The Orator, November/December 1990.

Problems with teachers

Some parents have pointed to another problem, namely the teacher.  This is summed up in the following:

“For example, in the course of receiving my own education, and notably during my university years, I have known Catholic teachers who have never read Pope Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae, or who hotly oppose it; teachers who feel that using artificial contraceptives is quite conformable with being a faithful Catholic.

“I have personally known Catholic teachers and Catholic nurses who were completely ignorant of the abortifacient properties of IUDs and the Pill; teachers who felt that homosexuality and sodomy and lesbianism are a matter of personal taste and conformable with Catholicity; teachers who have felt that killing the unborn child via abortion is their ‘choice.’

“I have know Catholic teachers for whom ‘sin’ is a dirty word and whose students couldn’t differentiate between mortal and venial sin.  I’ve also known Catholic teachers who have felt that fornication is okay between consenting persons.

“We, as parents subscribe to none of the above.  Why should we surrender our duty and rights in the deeply personal and intimate and sacred area of our children’s sexuality, when there is a very real chance that the teacher might have moral, religious and philosophical views so diametrically opposed to ours?  Nowadays, with public funding of our Catholic schools, it is quite possible to have a teacher who knows next to nothing about our Faith, or who isn’t even Catholic.  How could such an instructor replace devout Catholic parents in the two crucial areas of catechism and human sexuality?

A nurse comments on Fully Alive

Teresa Mohan

In our April ’91 Insight we printed Teresa Mohan’s article “A Public Health Nurse speaks out,” documenting the government’s use of PHN’s for the promotion of the contraceptive mentality.  In this issue, the same author recalls some basic points about sex-education in the past ,followed by a brief commentary on her experience of the Fully Alive Family Education Program now in use in Catholic schools in Ontario, Saskatchewan and elsewhere.

Let’s look back and see what factors generated this obsessions with sex education.

Birth control

The history of modern birth control may be said to have started with Robert Malthus, a British clergyman and economist.  He was the first to write on human fertility and food supply.  This was in 1798.  His thesis was that population and food supply are apt to be out of balance and something should be done about keeping the population down.

Nearly 100 years later, Bradlaugh and Besant, free thinkers, were advocating birth control and were taken to trial – a very famous trial – charged with obscenity and immorality.

They were not convicted.

By that time the Malthusian League had been formed (1877), which actively promoted birth control. Holland had the first birth control clinic in 1878.  But in the U.S., in 1873, the Comstock Act passed.  It banned any birth control information as well as pornographic material.

In 1916, Margaret Sanger, an American, advocate and eugenics, opened the first birth control clinic.  She and her followers were harassed by police, closed down, reopened and eventually were successful.

All this so-called reform by anti-religious people were in centers where there was a breakdown of religion.  These birth control promoters believed in free love and were decidedly anti-life.  Many were socialists in their philosophy and believed in their ability to perfect society.  These were the first people to promote eugenics, the idea that only the well-off and intelligent should have children, while the poor and ignorant should be discouraged.


The next onslaught of these reformers and educators was against school children.  After all, they are a captive audience.

After World War I in 1920, England and Scandinavia began teaching sex hygiene in schools on a modest scale.  After World War II in 1945, Sweden instituted compulsory sex-ed in their schools.  By the early 1950s, Sweden had become noted for its promiscuity, immorality, zero population growth, abortion, divorce and suicide.

In North America, the New York City Board of Education started a 15-week sex-ed training course for public school teachers in 1939.

Catholic response

It is not surprising then, that in response to these developments, the Catholic Church spoke out at intervals.

In 1880, Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical On Christian Marriage re-affirmed the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage and divorce.

In 1929, Pope Pius XI issued a circular letter on the Christian education of youth. It contained the first official condemnation of sex education.  “…Every form of pedagogic naturalism which in any way excludes or weakens super-natural Christian formation in the teaching of youth, is false, he wrote.”

In 1930, the same Pope wrote on the dignity of marriage and the assault on the family by birth control practices in the Encyclical Christian Marriage (Casti Connubii).

In 1931, the U.S. Catholic Bishops created the Family Life Bureau, condemning the promotion of home grown sex-ed, even if written by Catholic authors.

Pope John Paul II has commented on sex education in various occasions.

‘Fully Alive’

The Ontario conference of Catholic Bishops’ Family Life Program “Fully Alive” is now in use.

In my view, it violates parents’ rights and takes over their functions in favour of ‘professional sex educators.’  It is a naturalistic program with the emphasis on sexual biology.  It focuses on self – one’s body and the private parts, such as penis, vagina, scrotum, vulva, umbilical cord, etc.  It discusses sexual intercourse – and all this for grades 1-3.

There is no mention of our soul, our real self, our spiritual nature.

Planned Parenthood

This program of sex education is of Swedish-type and typical of Planned Parenthood.  It’s an invasion of privacy.  Children are encouraged to keep a journal on family matters, relationships between parents and children, between siblings and between spouses themselves.

Much of the program glorifies the ‘me.’  “I’m glad I’m me,”  “I’m glad of my friends,” “my feelings,” and so on.  This is unwholesome.  The child should be taught the virtues of chastity and modesty.

In my opinion, this program diminishes the sense of sin and indoctrinates the child in a humanistic morality.

The Popes have all been saying the same thing regarding sexual instruction – parents are the prime educators of our children.  This is not happening here.  Our children’s privacy is being invaded.

The Planned Parenthood dictates that Family Life or sex-ed philosophy must be taught from kindergarten to grade 13.  Now this is plenty of time to desensitize anyone.  We were born with a natural modesty and there is a breakdown of privacy with so much explicit material.

Question box

There is instruction from the teacher, dialogue among students, and moreover, there’s always the anonymous question box.  The questions are answered publicly no matter how private they may often be answered in a light-hearted manner.  In the next class, further questions are asked and answered.  By the time boys are 10, they know all about the girls’ periods, and girls know all about wet dreams, so we have taken them right down the road, and yes, they have lost their innocence.  By 12 or 13 they are ready to experiment.


Parents teach their children in altogether different ways.  When they teach their own children, it is done when the child is wondering about something.  He or she will ask the parent and get an answer.  It’s not like you are going to give them a full class every week or twice a week over a period of ten years.  It isn’t necessary.

In my opinion classroom sex-ed has been devastating.  There were good intentions but the promoters of these programs think that the more information the better.  But information still hasn’t caught up with formation.  What is needed is the formation of a person with a spiritual understanding.  This is what we have to tell parents.