Francis’ words on the flight back from his trip to Panama: “We need an objective education, without ideologies”
Sex is not a “monster” to escape from. It must not be a taboo. On the contrary, it is “a gift from God”. And we need “sex education” in schools. But there is more: it should not be “too rigid and closed”. In this way one can understand its true value. These would not be unusual words, if it weren’t a Pope to pronounce them. On the plane that took him back to Rome from Panama, where he was in recent days for World Youth Day, Francis talked, among other things, also about sex education.
And of youth and sex the Pontiff reasoned during the traditional press conference on the papal flight, responding to an American journalist who informed him of a “problem common throughout Central America, including Panama and much of Latin America: early pregnancies”. In Panama alone there were “ten thousand last year”. The question is: “Detractors of the Catholic Church blame the Church for opposing sex education in schools. What is the Pope’s opinion?”.
Francis kept it cool, and with a serious and concentrated tone he started to express his opinion on this issue. Never in his words will there be a position taken in defense of his “fort”. Nor predictable prudent formulations for such a delicate theme. That of Pope Francis is a Christian and concrete and human discourse. They were innovative words, without wanting to undermine Catholic tradition and teaching, as we would ultimately expect from Pope Francis.
He said: “Sex education must be given in schools”. Specifying and underlining that above all “sex is a gift from God”. And “it’s not a monster”. It is God’s gift “to love”. Then – fully aware he added – that some people use it to earn money or exploit is another problem”, yet it does not affect the innate purity of the gift. Bergoglio substantiates his thesis – for many unexpected: we must offer “sexual education” at school that is “objective, without ideological colonization”. He is probably referring to the theories of gender, he has often denounced as invasive dynamics, along with movements that can “destroy, making everything the same”, without the ability to “tolerate differences”. Then he adds and explains: “Because if sexual education is given in schools soaked in ideological colonization, you destroy the person”. At the same time, sex understood “as a gift from God must” be “taught” not with “rigidity”, or with mental and ideological closure. By creating taboos, precisely. The Pope specifies that “to educated, from the Latin “educere”. (to lead, to draw out, ed.), is to bring out the best of the person and accompany him/her along the way”. The Bishop of Rome warns: “The problem is the system”. He warns against the risks that “those responsible for education, both at the national and local levels, as well as in each school unit, may encounter”: in particular, the type of “teachers” chosen for this task, and the “textbooks” that are adopted for children and young people.
“I – the Pope confides – have seen all sorts of them”, including some inappropriate, “dirty”, he defines them. Because also and above all in this area “there are things that make people mature and others that do harm”. What matters to the Pope is that the schools open the doors to a true and proper sexual education, to be transmitted first of all to the youngest. On the contrary, the ideal would be to “start at home, with the parents”. But “it’s not always possible because of the many family situations that can be complicated”. Or because often fathers and mothers “do not know how to deal with the subject”. Therefore, the school can and must “make up” for this, take responsibility. “Otherwise – the Pope fears – it will remain a void that will be filled by any potentially dangerous ideology”.