|‘Within the context of our Catholic schools, I would find it unacceptable if students were given a compromised message on pre-marital sex.’ - Archbishop Nicholas Chia (File photo)|
Archbishop Nicholas Chia has issued a message to Catholic schools, clarifying the Church’s stand on pre-marital sex and contraception, topics dealt with in sexuality education programmes here.
In his message, signed on Jan 10 and issued to school supervisors and heads of Catholic schools a few days later, Archbishop Chia reiterated Pope Benedict XVI’s remarks in his World Day of Peace message regarding religious freedom.
“The right to religious freedom is rooted in the very dignity of the human person, whose transcendent nature must not be ignored or overlooked. God created man and woman in his own image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:27). For this reason, each person is endowed with the sacred right to a full life, also from a spiritual standpoint,” Archbishop Chia quoted the pope.
“As we begin a new school year I pray that all our Catholic schools remember that we have a duty and a right to nurture our Catholic identity for the benefit of all our students,” Archbishop Chia wrote.
Noting that many Catholics have requested that Church teachings be clarified in the area of pre-marital sex and contraception in school sexuality programmes, he said:
“Firstly, we acknowledge that we live in a secular society where no specific religious group has the right to impose its beliefs on others. Within the context of our Catholic schools however I would find it unacceptable if students were given a compromised message on pre-marital sex. This applies to all students in the school.
“Secondly, we are very concerned with the increasing incidence of sexually transmitted infections among students caused by young people indulging in sexual activity with multiple partners. We would like to collaborate with the Health Promotion Board to do whatever is best for our young people in this regard.”
He went on to say, “We are convinced that the solution to our problems is not to compromise but to remain faithful to what has been proven beneficial to the human person and supports the dignity and sacredness of human love and life.”
The message explains the Church’s official teaching on sexual intercourse, the marital act.
“The Church... teaches that each and every marital act must of necessity retain its intrinsic relationship to the procreation of human life” and “every action which... proposes whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible is intrinsically evil,” Archbishop Chia wrote, quoting Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical, Humanae Vitae.
Archbishop Chia also stressed that Church teaching against condom use refers to marital acts, “since marital acts are the only ethical sexual acts in the eyes of the Church.”
“If we present to our young people how to use the condom outside marriage, just in case you need it, it would be as though the Church is teaching us how to sin less grievously which makes no sense. Thus, we do not find official teachings of the Church on the uses of contraceptives in extramarital or homosexual sex,” Archbishop Chia wrote.
He, however, acknowledged that a question remains on whether it would be better to use contraceptives in cases of unethical sexual intercourse for the sake of preventing disease. “There is no official teaching of the Church on this point and we are left to the discussion of theologians and other authorities” on the matter, he said.
“Let us have the courage of our convictions and bring true education and values into sexuality and all other subjects and aspects of school life,” Archbishop Chia said in the conclusion to his message.
According to the Archdiocesan Commission for Catholic Schools (ACCS), representatives from the Catholic Church in Singapore have met with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to discuss the matter. The MOE has agreed to revisit the school sexuality education programme, Breaking Down Barriers. MOE will contact the schools in due course, says ACCS.
Archbishop Chia’s full message can be accessed at http://www.accs.sg/Abmsgsexuality.html