Primary Educators League

Assisting parents in the eternal vigil of protecting the freedom and holiness of their families.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis -" Talking About Touching" Aligned with Catholic Religious Instruction

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis recently published a 27 page document outlining in detail how each lesson correlates to the teachings of the Catholic Faith. This is different than the recently published "Correlation Guide" by Harcourt Press. However, this 27 page document looks very similar to one that was distributed at the rollout meeting nearly one year ago. The final few pages of the document are dedicated to "Creating Safe and Sacred Spaces" for high school students.

It is unclear who the authors are of this document. However, at the Archdiocesan-wide meeting in February 2006, the spokeswoman for the Committee for Children admitted that they, CFC, had created something for the Archdiocese of Boston that aligned the Catechism with "Talking About Touching." This document has a similar look and feel to that shared by the Committee for Children representative at the February 2006 meeting.

This document comes on the heals of the Catholic doctors calling for an end to "safe environments" and they specifically called out "Talking About Touching" as being anything but Catholic teaching.

The 27 page document can be found on the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis "Protection of Children and Youth Initiative" page. This page has some information about the "safe environments" initiative. On the left side where you'll see the new document, you will also see an article from Archbishop Flynn as well an article on "safe environments" published by the Catholic Spirit. Neither of those articles have been available to the public for some time. In addition, the Catholic Spirit no longer has posted the Special Report they published this fall to rollout the "safe environments" initiative to the Archdiocese. We have asked the editor, Joe Towalski, repeatedly post these articles again. While Mr. Towalski has never responded, Sr. Fran Donnelley just informed me that they are working on getting these reposted. We have also asked Mr. Towalski if he would be reporting on the Catholic Medical Association's devastating report on the U.S. Bishops' child safety programs. There has been no response.

I can't help but think what the Church and the world would be like if we marshalled the same kind of passion, commitment, organization, and financial backing to educate adults in the Faith.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Archdiocese of Boston and Harcourt Press Provide Cover for “Talking About Touching.”

Harcourt Press, publishers of many of the controversial sex ed materials taught throughout Catholic schools in the U.S., has joined the fray in the “safe environments” controversy that has been roiling many dioceses across the country.

In an e-mail and letter sent by Claudia Glaze from the Committee for Children, (the nonprofit publishers of the Talking About Touching program), to instructors using TAT in order to comply with the U.S. Bishops’ mandate for “safe environments” training for all Catholic school and religious ed children, she states that the Committee for Children has “collaborated” with Harcourt Religion Publishers and “religious educators from the Boston Archdiocese” to publish a “Call to Faith – Talking About Touching Correlation Guide.” She goes on to state that correlation guide, “is a wonderful breakthrough for Catholic educators who are teaching the Talking About Touching program within a religious-education context.” In other words, we will now be able to wrap TAT in Catholicism. However, for those who oppose the use of TAT and other like programs in our Catholic schools, this “Correlation Guide” will not quiet the outcry to remove these programs from our Catholic schools and religious education programs.

Given that 95+% of Catholic school children in the U.S. were already enrolled in some sort of “safe environment” program prior to the start of the ’06 – ’07 school year, why would Harcourt Press and the Archdiocese of Boston only now come out with a guide book that places “Talking About Touching” in context of Catholic teaching? Harcourt must expect a good return from this kind investment. Someone believes these “safe environments” programs and “Talking About Touching” will be around for a long time to come in our Catholic schools.

Catholic Doctors Call for an End to Bishops’ “Safe Environments” Mandate

Last month, the long awaited report by the Catholic Medical Association concerning the U.S. Bishops mandated “safe environments” programs was published. The 55 page report entitled, “To Prevent and To Protect” challenges the “safety” experts and calls upon the U.S. bishops to end the “safe environments” mandate and take a serious review of Article 12 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The CMA concludes, "We therefore recommend that U.S. bishops rescind the safe-environment mandate as it applies to children and adolescents and discontinue all child-empowerment programs for preventing child abuse."

Across the country, parents have reacted negatively as many view the U.S. bishops' madate as usurping their role as primary educators for their children. According to Our Sunday Visitor, 5.7 million Catholic school children have received “safe environments” training either through their Catholic schools or their parish religious education programs. It is estimated that over 95% of all Catholic children from pre-school to high school are currently enrolled in one of these programs.

Dr. Lynne Bissonnette-Pitre, a physician-psychiatrist and lead author of the Catholic Medical Association’s report, “To Protect and to Prevent” is quoted as stating the following in Our Sunday Visitor about various "safe environments" programs, “it (safe environment programs) causes children to be very confused. You could have a child who is 6 years old hearing about sexual abuse. It's a deviant, perverted form of sexuality that has nothing to do with love and marriage and chastity and responsibility for others. It's very frightening for the child and causes them to have confusion as to who is a safe person and who isn't.

Several important news analysis articles have been published recently that are worth reading.

Mary Jo Anderson has been covering this story for the past several years. Don’t miss her latest article, “Grave questions about bishops’ child-abuse prevention programs.”

Mary Ann Sullivan, who writes for the National Catholic Register and has also been covering this story for many years, just published this article on Monday, “Doctors Recommend Reform of Bishops’ Sex Abuse Prevention Plans.”

Paul Likoudis, The Wanderer Press, provides more detail of the recommendations offered by the Catholic Medical Association. This three page story does an exceptional job of bulleting out the areas of concern raised by the CMA and highlights key recommendations.

Domenico Bettinelli, publisher of the Bettnet Blog, made this entry after the report was released. Bettinelli lives in Boston and has been reporting the clergy sex abuse scandal and it’s aftermath from the epicenter of where this story initially broke years ago.

If you’re interested to learn more about the Catholic Medical Assocation, see their web site. “To Prevent and To Protect,” is available for purchase directly from the CMA’s web site for $10.