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Holy See: UN Youth Document Totally Excludes Role of Parents in Children's Lives

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS Staff Journalist

A delegation from the Holy See has issued a statement regarding a declaration produced at the U.N. World Youth Conference in Leon, Mexico in which it questions why the necessary role of parents in the lives of their children, particularly in the area of sex education, is missing from the document.

Zenit News is reporting that the statement, issued on Sept. 17, points out various "serious procedural and substantive issues" in the document that are cause for concern.

For instance, "the word 'parents' does not appear once in an outcome document devoted to youth, which means that the vital role parents must play in fulfilling their responsibilities for them has not been recognized," the statement points out, then adds: "This cannot and will not escape notice."

The statement goes on to express concern that "the reference to 'comprehensive education on human sexuality' stands alone without reference to parents' 'prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children,' including religious, moral and spiritual dimensions of authentic human love, and related matters concerning the nature of sexuality, marriage and the family."

During the conference, the Holy See delegation asserted that "young people have a right to receive an education based upon a fundamental respect for the intrinsic dignity and worth of the human person, an education they first receive from their parents and by which they are gradually formed to become responsible adults."

They added: "Young people have the right to receive education that fully respects the moral and spiritual dimensions of human life and this includes the basic right of parents to educate their children in the nature of sexuality, marriage and the family."

During the conference itself, the delegate affirmed that "every family also has the right to live freely its own domestic religious life under the guidance of the parents, as well as the right to profess that faith publicly."

The statement also took exception with the inclusion of abortion under the umbrella term "reproductive health" and said contraception and condoms are not acceptable "family planning measures."

As for the treatment of the terms "gender," and "gender equality" in the UN document, the Holy See stated its understanding that "'gender' is grounded in biological sexual identity, that is, the two sexes, male and female" and, in so doing, "excludes dubious interpretations based on world views which assert that sexual identity can be adapted indefinitely to suit new and different purposes."

The statement concluded with a request that it be included "verbatim," and annexed to the Guanajuato Declaration as well as be included in the official record of the conference.

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STUDY QUESTIONS 1. The Church believes that "The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute." In what ways are parents expected to fulfill this weighty responsibility? (See the Catechism No. 2223)

2.  How are parents expected to educate their children in the faith, and how do children contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents? (See Catechism No. 2226 and 2227)

3.  Do parents have a right to choose a school for their children? (See Catechism No. 2229)

4.  Why does the Church consider sex education so necessary for the proper overall development of the person and what is the role of parents and schools in this responsibility? (See Nos. 16-19 in Educational Guidance in Human Love)

5.  How should schools go about fulfilling the task of providing moral sex education to children? (See Nos. 69-77 in Educational Guidance in Human Love)

6.  What is the role of the civil society in providing sex education to children? (See Nos. 64-65 in Educational Guidance in Human Love)

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