Aaaahhh! At last!

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Oct 07, 2005

Kudos to Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon, who has announced that he will not comply with a new USCCB policy requiring sex-education programs (advertised as "safe-environment" training) for all Catholic children.

Many Catholics have aired their concerns about these programs, and this bishop, at least, has obviously been listening. He asks:

Are such programs effective? Do such programs impose an unduly burdensome responsibility on very young children to protect themselves rather than insisting that parents take such training and take on the primary responsibility for protecting their children? Where do these programs come from? Is it true that Planned Parenthood has a hand or at least huge influence on many of them? Is it true that other groups, actively promoting early sexual activity for children, promote these programs in association with their own perverse agendas? Do such programs involve, even tangentially, the sexualization of children, which is precisely a part of the societal evil we are striving to combat? Does such a program invade the Church-guaranteed-right of parents over the education of their children in sexual matters? Do I have the right to mandate such programs and demand that parents sign a document proving that they choose to exercise their right not to have their child involved? Do such programs introduce children to sex-related issues at age-inappropriate times? Would such programs generate a fruitful spiritual harvest?

Right. That does cover the complaints, all right. Now what?

Bishop Vasa answers:

At very least, even the possible unsatisfactory answers to any of the questions above leaves me unwilling and possibly even unable to expose the children of the diocese to harm the guise of trying to protect them from harm.


The bishop's email address is listed at the top of the column. I hope (hint, hint) that he's swamped with thank-you messages from grateful Catholic parents.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: a son of Mary - Oct. 13, 2005 1:30 PM ET USA

    I'm deeply humbled. Bishop Vasa replied! I was blown away. He did ask if I know of any studies showing some way to measure the 'effectiveness' or ineffectiveness of these child intrusive programs? Can anyone help this wonderful man? Does anyone know of any such studies? He went on to say that he appreciated the support. Pls let this bishop know he's loved and prayed for. And let's arm him for the onslaught he will face in refusing to support this nonsense.

  • Posted by: a son of Mary - Oct. 12, 2005 4:42 PM ET USA

    Wow! a real Bishop! I sent him an email pronto. Let's pray for Bishop Vasa and our holy priests. They need our support and our prayers. Only Our Lord in Heaven knows what our holy priests face. May our Most Holy Virgin Mary protect them and strengthen them.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 11, 2005 8:52 PM ET USA

    The USCCB should be formally suppressed and forced to meet in underground church basements with poor heat and light.

  • Posted by: Fr. William - Oct. 08, 2005 9:34 PM ET USA

    Thanks be to God for Bishop Vasa! He's a millenial bishop living holy boldness! Let's pray that the other millenial bishops do likewise. ENOUGH of these directives from the hovels of the USCCB (the forthcoming "lay ecclesial ministry" document should be trashed, too). ENOUGH of the garbabe that Cdls. Mahony, McCarrick & Bps. Trautman, Pilarczyk & their team spew forth. In my three parishes, we will NOT be implementing USCCB's whacko "Sexual Abuse Awareness Education for Children."

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2005 7:00 PM ET USA

    Bishop Vasa is to be commended. I hope that he can generate some dialogue within his diocese, and elsewhere in our church. He generated some interesting heat last year when he asked that religious educators, liturgists, extraordinary ministers of the Eucaharist, and cetera sign a statement expressing belief in matters Catholic. Bishop Vasa, if you keep on ticking off the right people, I think that you are destined for greatness. USCCB, bahhh!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2005 5:15 PM ET USA

    Almighty God - please raise up more bishops such as these to shepherd us!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2005 4:34 PM ET USA

    Canada needs you.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2005 3:53 PM ET USA

    Gil and Didymus, you'll have to fight me too! Bishop Vasa would be a worthy successor to Archbishop Pilarczyk in Cincinnati...but honestly he needs to be put in a Red Hat archdiocese and Cincinnati is not one.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Oct. 07, 2005 3:08 PM ET USA

    Shall we arm-wrestle, didymus? I just lost my archbishop to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Bishop Vasa would make a most welcome replacement. And he could stay in the same time zone.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2005 10:54 AM ET USA

    Bishop Vasa is to be congratulated for his courage and wisdom on behalf of his diocesan children. Would that this be the beginning of a "steam roller"effect from other bishops. Could this brave article be the beginning of an awakening of our muted and timid bishops? There exists in the Church today the most wonderful opportunity for those who love God and His Church to step forward as examples (as bishops) and show the stuff of martyrs and leaders.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2005 9:50 AM ET USA

    My own Cardinal Keeler will be 75 ... when? May it please the Holy Father to send this man east!

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2005 9:23 AM ET USA

    Dear Holy Father, A Red Hat for Bishop Vasa, please! I noticed Bishop Vasa was previously assigned to Lincoln NE so I would think he may have been mentored by ANOTHER bishop deserving of a Red Hat, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz. Sincerely, John