New Diocesan Policy Protecting Children in Catholic Schools

News: US News
by Nicholas Wylie  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 17, 2023   

Worcester upholds Catholic truths on sexual ethics

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WORCESTER, Mass. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Catholic diocese in Massachusetts is upholding Catholic truths on identity and sexuality in its schools.

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Bp. Robert McManus

On Tuesday, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the diocese of Worcester released new guidelines called "Catholic Education and the Human Person: Diocesan Policy for Schools Regarding Sexuality and Sexual Identity."

"All entities of the Catholic Church are for the purpose of furthering the saving mission of Jesus Christ and must operate in accord with the truth revealed by God in both natural law and divine revelation," the new policy states. "In particular, our Catholic schools must remain in the fullness of the truth in order to carry out their proper mission."

The diocese, which is headed by Bp. Robert McManus, cites canon 795 to explain the mission of Catholic education:

Since true education must strive for complete formation of the human person that looks to his or her final end as well as to the common good of societies, children and youth are to be nurtured in such a way that they are able to develop their physical, moral and intellectual talents harmoniously, acquire a more perfect sense of responsibility and right use of freedom and are formed to participate actively in social life. 

The document then acknowledges that this extends to all areas of life, "including human sexuality." It goes on to reference several passages from the Catechism of the Catholic Church and statements from papal documents to establish Catholic thought on the subject: 

As Pope Francis notes, we must always respect the sacred dignity of each individual person, but that does not mean the Church must accept the confused notions of secular gender ideology.  We must not demean or deny the sincerity and struggle of those who experience same-sex attraction or who feel their true gender identity is different from their biological sex. Rather, we seek to accompany them on their journey of life, offering them the light of the gospel as they try to find their way forward. These truths are not merely faith-based; rather, such realities are also knowable through the use of properly functioning senses and right reason (Pope St. John Paul II, Fides et Ratio, #22). 

"We do not serve anyone's greater good by falsifying the truth, for it is only the truth that frees us for the full life that God offers to each of us," proclaims the diocese. "Thus, when a person experiences same-sex attraction or some form of gender dysphoria, such struggles do not change the biological fact of how God created that person, and it would be untruthful for the Catholic Church or our Catholic schools to pretend otherwise."

The policy went on to stipulate that bullying, harassment or violence based on students' perceived sexual orientation or identity would not be tolerated in schools. 

Speaking of the virtue of chastity, the policy declares, "All persons are called to chastity in accordance with their state in life. For purposes of the school environment, chastity also encompasses modesty in language, appearance, dress and behavior. Accordingly, romantic or sexual displays of affection are not permitted at school."

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The new guidelines make clear that students are expected to act in all school-related matters in accordance with their biological sex, whether it be in dress, locker rooms, bathrooms, school dances, athletics, use of pronouns and so forth.

"If a student's expression of gender, sexual identity or sexuality should cause confusion or disruption at the school, or if it should mislead others, cause scandal or have the potential for causing scandal, then the matter will first be discussed with the student and his/her parents," the document continues. 

"If the issue is not resolved to the satisfaction of the school, whose primary goal must always be to uphold Catholic truths and principles, then the student may be dismissed from the school, after the parents are first given the opportunity to withdraw the student from the school."

Students may not advocate, celebrate or express same-sex attraction in such a way.

The policy states that the use of the term "same-sex attraction" is preferred to other similar terms in regard to homosexuality. The diocese declares, "Students may not advocate, celebrate or express same-sex attraction in such a way as to cause confusion or distraction in the context of Catholic school classes, activities or events."

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C.J. Doyle

Catholic Action League of Massachusetts celebrated the new guidelines. "Catholic schools were built by and for the Catholic community, whose children have a right to an authentically Catholic education," expressed executive director C.J. Doyle. "Catholic parents should enjoy the reasonable expectation that Catholic schools will provide a genuine alternative to the secular values and practices — often inimical to Christian morality and parental rights — which prevail in the government-controlled public school system."

"Finally, the Catholic faithful should have the right to hear the truth of the Church's teachings, without their beliefs being reprobated or their religious leaders being demonized by secular society," Doyle continued. "Catholics should regard the opprobrium and the ad hominem attacks which will now be visited upon Bp. McManus as testimony to his loyalty and to his integrity."

Last year, Bp. McManus stripped a local Jesuit-run school of its Catholic status after it failed to comply with his order to remove "pride" and Black Lives Matter flags from its campus. 

In light of that incident, hundreds of students, faculty and alumni of the College of the Holy Cross — also under the care of the Jesuits — signed a petition demanding Bp. McManus be disinvited from the school's commencement, calling the bishop "ignorant and bigoted." The Worcester prelate later decided not to attend. 

"Holy Cross is one of the more egregiously scandalous Catholic institutions in the United States," C.J. Doyle told Church Militant. "They had an abortionist speak there last year. They had a lesbian Episcopal female 'bishop' speak there last year. They have a theologian who has suggested some blasphemous things about Our Lord's identity."

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