Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

New Catholic Sex Ed Series Teaches Kindergartners To Accept Legitimacy of Homosexual Lifestyle

by Paul Likoudis

Descriptive Title

Critique of Growing in Love


An article about the United States Coalition for Life's initiative to educate Catholic parents about the insidious new catechetical program for elementary school students titled, "Growing in Love, published by Harcourt Religion.

Larger Work

The Wanderer


1 & 9

Publisher & Date

The Wanderer Printing Company, March 15, 2001

EXPORT, Pa. — On Ash Wednesday, the United States Coalition for Life launched its first initiative in a multifaceted, yearlong national campaign to educate Catholic parents about an insidious new catechetical program for Catholic elementary school students titled, Growing in Love, published by media giant Harcourt Religion.

The authors of Growing in Love are James J. DeBoy Jr., formerly of Time Consultants, now executive director of the National Center for Pastoral Leadership; Toinette M. Eugene, formation director for the Pastoral Leadership Placement Board and director of the African-American Pastoral Center of the Diocese of Oakland, and a self-described expert in "womanist and feminist ethics"; and sexologist Fr. Richard Sparks, C.S.P., currently chaplain at the Newman Center at Berkeley, Calif.

In his recent (and 10th or 11th, he wasn't certain) appearance at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, Sparks identified himself as one of the writers of the U.S. bishops' 1990 sex ed document Human Sexuality: A Catholic Perspective for Education and Life-Long Learning, and named his theological mentors, all of whom are prominent dissenters, including Sr. Margaret Farley, R.S.M.; Fr. Charles Curran; Bernard Haring, C.Ss.R.; Rick Gula; Fr. Richard McCormick, S.J.; and Lisa Sowle Cahill.

Sparks' admission that he was one of Human Sexuality's writers is important in the context of his new sex ed series, Growing in Love, because it illustrates how that document will cover the most intrusive, invasive, and corrupting sex information imaginable to be imposed on children.

Twenty years ago, the sexology conveyed to little children, beginning in kindergarten in Growing in Love, would have been graduate-level course material for professional sex therapists, nurses, doctors, biologists, and sex educators.

Sparks' catechesis programs children to accept all the vices which have become current in Amchurch and society at large. The sexual information conveyed to children, ages 5-12, teaches them the most private and intimate behavior reserved to married people, as well as the bizarre and self-destructive abuses of the sexual faculties by deviants.

It is not incidental that Sparks' "ethics of perplexity" and "ethics of compromise" sanction the practices of homosexual activists who have been pressuring the Church to change its sexual ethics and its condemnation of sodomy.

This new catechetical series, which carries the imprimatur of Archbishop Jerome Hanus, O.S.B., of Dubuque, Iowa, is a "homoerotic" sex program intended to indoctrinate Catholic children into the homosexual lifestyle, said the U.S. Coalition for Life's Randy Engel.

Growing in Love, said Mrs. Engel, "is so utterly disgusting and depraved in its explicit description of perverted sex acts, including oral sex techniques for male and female heterosexuals and homosexuals, and so in-your-face with 'gay and lesbian agitprop,' that it just might spark enough public outrage to force the American hierarchy and the Vatican to bring this 50-year anti-life, anti-child, anti-family, and anti-God experiment to a merciful end."

In a letter dated February 22, 2001, Engel has asked Hanus to remove his imprimatur from the program. Archbishop Hanus acknowledged the letter in a February 27 letter to Engel, and said her critiques would be "taken under consideration."

Growing in Love has already engendered significant public controversy, most notably in the Diocese of Syracuse, N.Y., where parents in Syracuse, Binghamton, Utica, and Rome, N.Y., have protested the introduction of the textbook series into Catholic schools.

As usual, parents opposing the program have been maligned as "a small group of very vocal and highly critical parents ... [who] have used misinformation to try to convince our own parents, as well as parents from other local Catholic schools, that its way of thinking is the only way" — as Anna Pastore, chairman of the Holy Family School Advisory Board, wrote in a guest editorial published in The Syracuse Post-Standard February 20.

On the other side, Paul Marek wrote in a letter to the editor of the same edition of the paper: "... Shame on you, Church and school leaders, who deliberately expose these innocent children which focuses on and stimulates the sexual function.... Make no mistake that this diocese is in disobedience to the Vatican. This diocese is causing scandal. Parents have a right to know this before this series is introduced into their parish schools."

Later this month, a delegation of parents from the diocese will be going to Rome to show officials of the Holy See the aggressive face of the new sex education, which reaches down to the youngest students to begin a systematic desensitization to homosexuality.

The U.S. Coalition for Life's second objective is to bring Growing in Love to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for Catholic Education, and the Pontifical Council for the Family.

"The situation is so grave," said Engel, "that nothing less than a public declaration from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith signed by the Holy Father confirming the traditional total ban on classroom sex education as enunciated by Pope Pius XI in his encyclical On the Christian Education of Youth on December 31, 1929 will do. This declaration must be accompanied by severe sanctions for hierarchical, clerical, religious, and lay teacher offenders.

"Words must be backed by action and effective sanctions. Simply removing the offending program will, as experience has shown, be a futile effort. Growing In Love will simply be replaced by another sex program so that the last state is worse than the first."

Anti-Life Publishing Houses

In her letter to Archbishop Hanus, Randy Engel outlined the two major problems with the series, its publisher and its content:

"The following two-part report on catechetical materials produced by Harcourt, Inc., and its acquisitions is being forwarded to your office," wrote Engel, "as the first step in obtaining the removal of the nihil obstat given by Rev. Richard L. Schaefer Censor De Putatus and your imprimatur as the archbishop of Dubuque from all Harcourt catechetical materials, including Brown-ROA's new sexual catechesis Growing In Love.

"Once the facts have been laid before you I trust you will act affirmatively and judiciously in this matter so as to minimize the occasion of public scandal should this grave matter become public.

"The first part of this complaint involves Harcourt, Inc., itself. As you are no doubt aware, in 1994 Harcourt acquired Brown-ROA, a major publishing house for Catholic religious instruction materials. Harcourt is a global multimedia corporation with fiscal revenues of more than $2.41 billion.

"Since 1994, Catholic dioceses and their secondary and higher educational institutions throughout the United States have, by their purchasing of such Brown-ROA Catholic texts and study/instruction which bear your imprimatur, become a core asset to Harcourt's overall financial success.

"In addition, given the ecclesiastical meaning of the imprimatur and nihil obstat, Brown-ROA/Harcourt Catholic catechetical publications have acquired a semiofficial Church-approved status without which the publishing house would find it difficult, if not impossible, to compete in the multimillion dollar catechetical market.

"In 1999, Matthew J. Thibeau, the president of Brown-ROA, informed Catholic religion teachers that, in keeping with the realities of the 1994 acquisition, Brown-ROA was changing its name to Harcourt Religion Publishers. It is clear from his statement that Thibeau, at least publicly, is satisfied with the acquisition. But then again, it is your imprimatur that appears with the Brown-ROA/Harcourt Religion Publishers identification and not his.

"Now, to cut to the chase. Harcourt, Inc., is a multinational cartel with a large stable of notorious anti-life publishing houses. May I draw your attention to the fact that in May 1999, Churchill Livingston, a Harcourt Health Sciences Company, publicly announced the publication of A Clinician's Guide to Medical and Surgical Abortion — 'the first clinical reference on abortion practice to be published in the United States in over 15 years.' This 'how-to-kill unborn children' guide features multi-extermination methods of abortion, at all stages of fetal development, including RU 486, manual aspiration, and late abortion techniques using prostaglandins. It provides a list of resources for abortion providers. Harcourt tells us that the book carries the imprimatur of the National Abortion Federation.

"In October 1999, another Harcourt company, W. B. Saunders, published Contraception and Office Gynecology, with clinical details related to contraceptive, abortifacients, and 'therapeutic termination of pregnancy.'

"In November 1999, Churchill Livingston published Contraception: Your Questions Answered, complete with a philosophical Malthusian introduction on 'The Population Explosion and the Importance of Fertility Control.' Abortifacient information including updates on the Pill and 'postcoital' [read abortion] methods are provided.

"In October 1997, still another Harcourt sister company, Bailliere Tindall, published the Handbook of Contraception and Family Planning, which includes the application of all forms of contraception and abortifacients and sterilization.

"As its contribution to the homosexual movement, in October 1995, Harcourt published The Lives of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals for use in undergraduate and graduate courses in gay, lesbian, and bisexual 'studies' designed to confirm homosexuals in their death-style — physically [AIDS], psychologically, and spiritually.

"As early as 1988, Harcourt Brace and Jovanovich published Bioethics which promotes virtually every eugenic medical practice condemned in the Vatican's Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin issued with the Holy Father's approbation by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1987.

"Clearly, Harcourt is neither a friend of the Roman Catholic Church nor of the unborn child. Your imprimatur on any Harcourt catechetical material is as inappropriate as a Jewish good-housekeeping seal would be for I.G. Farben.

"Now, let me take up the specific case of your imprimatur on Brown-ROA/Harcourt Religion Publishers' new sexual catechesis for grades K-6, Growing in Love.

"As the archbishop of Dubuque, successor to the Apostles, and the promoter and guardian of doctrine on faith and morals, you possess both the duty and right to exercise vigilance in order that the faith and morals of the members of the faithful entrusted to your care, most especially the souls of innocent children, may not suffer harm....

"Sexual catechetics such as Brown-ROA/Harcourt Religion Publications' Growing in Love, designed for kindergarten — sixth-grade students, ages 5 to 12, constitute a direct spiritual, emotional, and psychological assault on the very souls of Catholic children — dare I say — a demonic rape of innocence. So-called sex education is sexual abuse in its worst form because it directly affects the immortal souls of thousands of Catholic school children (and their parents) and is carried out under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Church itself.

"This communication does not lend itself to a full review of Growing in Love from a Catholic perspective. However, I should be remiss in not bringing to your attention the aggressive manner in which the ideology and practices of the Homosexual Movement/Church in the United States are advanced in the texts of Growing in Love.

"Interestingly, it is Harcourt Religion Publications itself which alerts us to the homosexual overtures to be found in Growing In Love.

"On its Catechetical Research web site promoting Growing in Love, Toinette M. Eugene, Ph.D., in an essay titled 'Relationships That Make a Difference: The Importance of Including Culture and Scripture in Family Life and Human Sexuality Education,' states that in the program [Growing In Love], 'racism, sexism, and HOMOPHOBIA, and other socially isolating evidence of social sinfulness are addressed thoughtfully, explicitly, and carefully' [Engel's emphasis].

"Now the term 'homophobic' is a gay political homosexual verbal construct. In the homosexual manifesto Jesus Acted Up, ex-Jesuit and self-proclaimed homosexual Dr. Robert Goss defines 'homophobia' as 'the socialized state of fear, threat, aversion, prejudice, and irrational hatred of the feelings of same-sex attractions' which can be held by 'individuals, groups, social institutions, and cultural practices.' According to Goss, the most influential purveyor of the 'sin' of 'homophobia' is the Roman Catholic Church....

"In the Family Resource Book of Growing in Love for parents of kindergarten children ages five to six, the authors also use the politically loaded homosexualist term 'gay,' and grossly misrepresent the nature of homosexual acts to parents by stating that 'a man who is gay loves another man. A woman who is gay, or lesbian, loves another woman.' What a debasement and defilement of the word 'love'....

"In the fifth-grade Student Activity Book, students ages nine to ten are informed that while the majority of men and women have a 'tendency' to be heterosexual, some have the 'tendency' to be homosexual. The fact is that heterosexuality is a biological norm, not a 'tendency.' Same-sex attraction is a psychosexual aberration related to a complex set of familial disturbances in the formative years, combined with opportunities for initiation into sodomical practices.

"Moving on to the sixth-grade Family Resource Book for parents of children ages 10-12, parents are treated to a dissertation on oral sex including fellatio, commonly employed by male homosexuals, and cunnilingus employed in lesbian acts. The authors of Growing in Filth assure parents that 'both homosexual and heterosexual couples engage in oral sex' and the text provides a detailed description of the perverted acts. Given this acceleration in erotica one wonders what further explicit information on perverted sex lies ahead for parents and students.

"Growing in Love is all the more offensive because it attempts to hide explicit sexual materials including descriptions of perverted acts behind a religious facade.

"I shuddered when I was advised that in your letter of November 9, 1999 to Brown-ROA/Harcourt Religion Publishers, you chose and approved as the imprimatur date for Growing In Love, January 8, 2000, the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas!

"In December 1995, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith withdrew the imprimatur given to a Scottish sex instruction text by Archbishop Keith O'Brien of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, which advocated the use of condoms as a way of avoiding AIDS. The removal of the imprimatur led to the 'sex education study pack' being banned from all Catholic schools in Scotland.

"I hope that you will take the initiative yourself without an order from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and agree to remove your imprimatur from all Harcourt publications beginning with Growing in Love . Further that you will publicly disassociate your person and the Archdiocese of Dubuque from any direct or indirect association with Harcourt and its sister companies. And that you immediately inform the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the NCCB/USCC, all the American bishops, and all Catholic schools administrators of your actions."

Expert Opinion

Judy Ammenheuser of the Maryland-based Mothers' Watch is currently evaluating the entire program. Each grade level of Growing in Love consists of a student text, a Teaching Guide, a Family Resource, and a Program Resource. One set of the entire K-6 program costs more than $500, including an Implementation Manual and two videos.

"By just looking at the children's text and Teaching Guide," she told The Wanderer, "parents will not see the explicit material contained in the Family Resource book and the Program Resource. The Program Resource is the book that teachers also use in the classroom.

"What is so devious about this program is that the Implementation Guide, which school officials will use to convince parents of the worthwhileness of the program, only gives parents 15 minutes to look through the entire program during the parents' meeting. Parents are not likely to see the Program Resource, nor the reference to this resource in the lesson extension in the Teaching Guide. If they should see the objectionable material in the Family Resource, it is likely that the content will be explained away as for 'parents' eyes only' and to be used at their discretion," Mrs. Ammenheuser said.

"The Implementation Resource suggests one of three ways to implement the program: One is at home, using the 'appropriate' Family Resource; the second is in the joint parent-child session, with a teacher or catechist in a school or parish; and the third is by the teacher in the class with parental permission.

"The third, one would expect, will be the routine effort, by the teacher in the classroom who, obviously, after obtaining parental permission, has an interest in exposing his students to the entire sexual liberation agenda."

Ammenheuser also stated that this program is guaranteed to destroy religion in a child's life, and sex will become the child's new religion, putting the child in tune with all the sexual messages in society today, especially those on television, music, and in advertising.

"Reviewed Very Closely"

Archbishop Hanus told The Wanderer in a telephone interview that he will review the request that Randy Engel made of him, that he withdraw his imprimatur from the Growing in Love series, but he added immediately that Mrs. Engel's objections to the Holy See's documents on sex education are well-known. "She has objected," he said, "to the Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education's document Education in Human Love" which was issued in 1983.

He also pointed out that not only he, but a large number of people reviewed Growing in Love prior to his granting the imprimatur, and that the entire series was "reviewed very closely."

He then said, "We made sure it conforms to The Catechism of the Catholic Church, and the Bishops' Committee on the Catechism reviewed all the background material, but only approved the student texts. They said they were in conformity with The Catechism of the Catholic Church."

According to Fr. Daniel J. Kutys, executive director of the Office of the Catechism, his office merely provides a "declaration of conformity" stating that any doctrinal content in the series is in conformity with The Catechism of the Catholic Church.

"This declaration," he told The Wanderer, "is very distinct from an imprimatur. It is not an 'approval' but a tool to use in the local approval process." He also said that Archbishop Hanus was mistaken in his understanding that the entire Growing in Love series and the background material were submitted to the Office of the Catechism.

"The only part of the series that came to this office was the student materials," he said.

Fr. Kutys' assistant at the office, Molly Growdon, explained to The Wanderer the approval process for any catechetical series.

"Any text is submitted voluntarily by a publisher. Our office gathers together a review team, made up of one bishop and two experts in the field of catechesis. These three reviewers look at the series in terms of the protocol we use in this office to make sure the text is in conformity with the Catechism."

Asked if she could reveal the names of the bishop and two reviewers who approved Growing in Love, Growdon responded, "The reviewers' names are always kept confidential."

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