It is an increasing complaint of Catholic parents who have tried to raise their children in the Faith “I do not understand why our children do not share our values, our Faith and our approach to life issues”.
Today more and more parents see their teenagers acting like lemmings: following the crowd, following the normative culture and in many cases are indistinguishable from other children raised in non-religious homes.
Most Catholic parents make the effort to send their children to good Catholic schools in the hope that, complementing their good parental example, the school will promote the Catholic tradition and culture as part of the learning process.
But are Catholic children any more pro-life or informed and committed to the Catholic cause and sense of morality than their non-Catholic peers? Are Catholic teenagers any less likely to cohabit, contracept, be promiscuous, or abort than teenagers from non-religious backgrounds?
According to research we have conducted in a number of Catholic schools, it would seem that attitudes, values, perceptions and behaviour of the majority of young people in Catholic schools do not differ significantly from that found in the general population.
The HLI chastity team have gone into a number of schools in the past year and before delivering our programme, distributed a questionnaire in an attempt to identify where our children stand on key moral issues. This document cannot consider all the category areas of our studies, but if we look at three of the most topical issues, namely co-habitation, contraception and abortion, we can get some idea of the impact the Church and the state’s institutions are having on the next generation.
When we asked the question; “Do you think its acceptable for a couple to live together without the intension of getting married?”
As can be seen from the chart above, some 81% of our children agree or strongly agree that it is ok for a couple to live together without the intent of marrying. However, when we asked, “Is it a good idea for a couple who intend to marry to live together first?”, we found 65% of children agreed with that statement. Those who either don’t know or disagree were 25% and 10% respectively.
This group if they have no strong feeling on the subject they are most likely to follow the normative culture when the opportunity occurs.
Those children who rejected these statements accounted for 9% and 10% respectively the others could not choose.
When asked “Is contraception a necessity today?”, the students responses were; 80% were in agreement and 12% neither agreed nor disagreed. 8% opposed contraception as a necessity.
Finally when we asked the question “Do you agree that abortion can be justified?”
The results were as follows. 41% disagreed that abortion could ever be justified. The greatest single category undecided amounted to 35%, while 24% agreed with abortion. What is encouraging is that the majority have not as yet committed themselves to the killing of the unborn.
When we look at the way in which these students answered the questions it becomes apparent how successful the media and sex educators have been in influencing our children. We have countless television soaps promoting immoral progressive lifestyles. Is it any wonder that the views and opinions of our young people run parallel with these dramas?
The overt messages our children are continuously bombarded with, plus the lack of moral formation given in their parish communities, inevitably leave young people in a moral desert. For the most part they never hear the message consistently taught by the Church’s Magisterium, so we should not be surprised if the majority of young Catholics do not hold fast to the teaching of the Church.
If young people accept co-habitation, then they inevitably accept contraception, and if they accept contraception, the acceptance of abortion follows closely behind, as the contraception of last resort. The agents of death have long recognized this and for this reason they push a version of sex education which is based on the promotion of contraception. The strategy is to change the behaviour of the young so that they can dictate their value system.
Most children spend 15 years in full time education. One might think that it is an opportune time for those in the Catholic education system to provide some Catholic formation, thereby reinforcing the many virtues parents so earnestly want their children to acquire. Yet even within Catholic education our children are often taught that Catholicism as a faith is one among equals. In many primary schools children are introduced to Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and other religions while First Communion and Confirmation classes are done outside school hours.
But it is the introduction of sex and relationship education, which has been so damaging. Sex instruction in schools is a misappropriation of parental authority which teachers have in most cases been forced to teach. The introduction of such material into schools has not led to happy lifelong marriages nor has it helped our children to live more moral or chaste lives.
It has rather reinforced the false expectations of a immoral society numbed into moral indifference to the extent that chastity will increasingly be equated with malnutrition. The staple diet of young people will continue to be one of alienation from their parents, from authority legitimately exercised and from the teaching of the Catholic Church.
Sex education in schools seek to give our young people every option but that of living a chaste life. Maybe that is because it’s a virtue for the most part, which was never practised by the previous generation. And it is apparent for the same reason so many teachers sincerely believe that young people are incapable of exercising the virtue of temperance and therefore do not teach it.
It must be honestly admitted that Catholic schools have not fulfilled their responsibilities of giving our young people an adequate understanding of their faith, which will equip them to counter and indeed challenge the secularist belief systems that confront them. The beauty and the mystery of the Church’s teaching on the holiness of sex within marriage are being withheld from them. In fact the only mystery, which as yet remains unfathomable, is why, in this sex-saturated society, children are deemed to be ignorant in sexual matters.
In essence the lack of Catholic formation and the constant morally bankrupt progressive push, explains why Catholic parents are finding it more and more difficult not only to pass on the Faith to their children, but also to pass on the practice of the Faith, that is, the living of the moral life. The fact is we now live in a pagan culture, where the tentacles of hedonism and materialism have invaded most areas in our children’s lives. When one considers the amount of time our children spend with television, on social media, and at school and with their peers only the strongest of young people can survive with their faith intact once they have gone through the education system.
PROVIDING MORAL FORMATION
As parents we need to be proactive in stepping in to say “No” to the sex instructors even if it means upsetting the school authorities and withdrawing the child from the lesson. Failure to do so will leave our children psychologically and morally impoverished. Further it is desensitises as well as strips away children’s natural sense of modesty and shyness, which Our Loving Creator put there to protect them.
If the weakening of our children’s Faith is to be prevented, Catholic parents must remain the prime educators of their children particularly in this area. Even if parents cannot articulate to their children the teaching of Christ and the living out of the moral life, simply teaching it by example will suffice. Our children are expert imitators as God intended and by observing the loving and prayerful relationship between their parents is the basis to give them the insight they need to prepare them for married life.
Parents need to minimised many of the destructive influences such as TV, social media and bad company while maximising positive influences like holding fast to family prayer time and family activities in common. The most effective pro-life organisation and school in the world is the family and for this reason parents must not opt out of their children’s education nor should they allow those whose faith is dubious to instruct them in faith or moral matters. By ensuring that children have both a sound understanding of the Catholic Faith and practise it to the full from their earliest years, will better enable them to defend their beliefs in their adult years.