A Catholic Analysis of the New Creation Series
by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.
The original analysis
of the New Creation Series was received and approved by His Eminence Edouard
Cardinal Gagnon, p.s.s., President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.
In his letter of approval, Cardinal Gagnon made the following observations:
One of the sins of the
New Creation Series is its flagrant violation of the latency stage, oras
is termed in Familiaris Consortiothe years of innocence (N. 37). It would
be good to make specific mention of this fact in your Analysis. I also suggest
an additional aspect, to which you would do well to give specific consideration
in your Analysis: certain of the Source and Enrichment authors/books listed
in the New Creation Series.
Both of these two elements,
the latency stage and the recommended authors/books, were implied in the
original analysis of the New Creation Series. However, in the present
supplement they will be given more specific attention. Also several more weeks
were devoted to the study of these two areas. What follows will therefore reflect
this further research.
Violation of the Latency Stage
We should first quote two short paragraphs from Pope John Paul IIs Familiaris
Consortio, to which Cardinal Gagnon refers.
In view of the close links between the sexual dimension
of the person and his or her ethical values, education must bring the children
to a knowledge of and respect for the moral norms as the necessary and invaluable
guarantee for responsible personal growth in human sexuality.
For this reason, the Church
is firmly opposed to an often widespread form of imparting sex information dissociated
from moral principles. That would merely be an introduction to the experience
of pleasure and a stimulus leading to the loss of serenitywhile still in the
years of innocenceby opening the way to vice. 
The authors and advisers
of the New Creation Series will object to charging them with imparting
sex information dissociated from moral principles. But they should not object.
As the Analysis makes clear, the New Creation Series does not teach the
irreversible principles of Catholic Christianity on sexual morality. Its underlying
Pelagian anthropology, its indifference to the morality of sex stimulation,
and its moral subjectivism are poles apart from the nineteen centuries of Catholic
magisterial teaching on chastity and what Pope John Paul II calls the nuptial
meaning of the body.
What further justifies
the charge of violating the latency stage is the crude preoccupation with sexual
anatomy and activity from the first grade on through all the years before puberty.
The male and female sex organs, their function and gender relationship are explained
in detail, diagrammed by the teacher, graphically illustrated and permanently
impressed on the minds of the little children.
The authors of the New
Creation Series are perfectly logical in their preoccupation with sex information
to children in their earliest years. Among the Resources for Parents recommended
by New Creation, we are told that, The latency view has very few advocates
these days because parents have seldom actually observed their childs curiosity
wane during this stage. In fact, children are interestedoften preoccupied
with sexual jokes, pictures, words and friends stories
watch their bodies for changes and wonder when erections and emissions, menstruation
and real sexual impulses will begin. 
New Creation therefore
assumes that even the youngest children are already saturated with sex stimulation.
On these premises there is no valid reason for withholding sex indoctrination
during an alleged latency stage.
New Creation interweaves
all of this sexism with stories about Jesus, and Mary and the Apostles. Yet
in telling these stories, some of the most fundamental doctrines of Christianity,
touching on chastity are either glided over or misrepresented. Thus when first
graders have the Annunciation explained to them, there is not a word about Marys
Where Pope John Paul II
says that education for chastity is absolutely essential, New Creation teaches
children the whole spectrum of bodily sex activity.
Again the Pope tells Christian
parents to discern the signs of Gods call in their young children. Thus they
will devote special attention and care to education in virginity and celibacy
as the supreme form of that self-giving which constitutes the very meaning of
human sexuality (Familiaris Consortio, 37). Needless to say, this is not
part of the pedagogy of the New Creation Series.
Harmful Teaching of Recommended Authors
The authors recommended
by the New Creation Series are an integral part of its sex education.
Scores of writings are included, mainly in the teacher manuals, but also in
the Program Manual and Insights into New Creation. There are
resources for adults, teachers, parents and children. They are also part
of what is called enrichment, along with music and filmstrips, and in addition
to some two dozen transparencies which still further illustrate the sexual ideology
of the program.
Our focus here is on books recommended for use by parents and teachers.
There are three main features
to these books: they reflect the whole range of ethical philosophy. They are
drawn from Catholic, Protestant, Jewish and secularist sources; and they leave
the researcher with one dominant impression, that the teaching of the Catholic
Church is only one of a wide variety of options in sexual morality.
Our purpose here is to
identify the main errors reflected among the recommended sources. The principal
areas of such erroneous teaching are numbered.
1. There Is No Stable Morality
Time and again, the recommended
sources favor situation ethics as a moral guide for sexual conduct. Some are
more explicit than others.
One of the most outspoken
writers devotes a whole chapter to what he calls The Moral Dilemma. The dilemma
is how to remain psychologically normal in a world that has discarded the
notion of a single morality that works for everybody.
Morals once consisted
of countless shoulds and shouldnts based on codes of conduct religiously
and socially expounded as the way. Acceptable sexual behavior was relatively
unchallenged and clear-cut: unmarried persons were not to have sex.
For most Americans those
days are past. In effect
We have come to the end of a time when morality
will be accepted as an edict from the deity
How, then, are people
to decide on their moral behavior? Basically, it will be in terms of their
These same emotional needs, as defined by unmarried
persons, separated couples, adulterers, communes, homosexuals, divorcees, teenagers
and all nontraditional, non-family relationships, may appropriately involve
The dilemma, of course,
is whether we want to rehash the way things used to be. If we do, the results
can be psychologically devastating. Clearly such a morality has become unworkable
and is in need of radical reform.
What are we to conclude
from this situation? That there are no objective moral standards. Each person
must contend in the free marketplace of ideas. This marketplace today has
become the individuals own conscience. Each one must decide which alternatives
are best and most workable for himself. 
2. Process Theology and Changing Morals
The theory of an unstable
morality is finally rooted in the philosophy of a changeable deity. Known as
process theology, it has many followers, including some nominal Christians.
Among the authors recommended by New Creation is one who has no sympathy
with an unchangeable God.
Our Greek philosophy pictures
God for us as the unmoved mover. Our dull, dry catechetics has described
him as a dispassionate judge who is sufficient unto himself and does not need
us. But contemporary process theology reflecting the scriptures describes him
as a tender companion (to use Alfred North Whiteheads term) who attracts
us to follow along with him by his gentle and seductive lures. 
Certainly a God who can
change and who needs us to grow in perfection, is not the God whom Christianity
believes is the infinite Being who created the world out of nothing. He is
also not the God whose laws for His rational creatures partake of His own immutability.
Given the notion of a
deity who is still in process, a document like Humanae Vitae is worse
than out of touch with the times. If scholars are to theologize about sex,
they had better ignore the outdated teaching of Pope Paul VIs encyclical on
I have the impression
that theologizing about sexuality and marriage had ground to a halt in the Roman
Church. The trauma of the encyclical letter Humanae Vitae has been profoundly
discouraging, and what little theologizing occurs is usually either explicitly
or implicitly a dialogue with Humanae Vitae or a reaction against the
old, rigid, and inflexible approach to sexuality of which Humanae Vitae
may well have been the last dying gasp. 
The fact that the author
of these ideas is a Catholic priest in good standing only makes his impact more
serious on teachers and parents who use the New Creation Series.
3. Approval of Sex Outside of Marriage
Not a few of the writers approved by New Creation approve deliberate sex
pleasure outside of marriage.
This is not surprising
in view of the updated morality already described. What is more surprising
is the variety of grounds on which the practice is not only permitted but encouraged.
Masturbation comes in
for frequent approval. Writers who are in the Christian ministry are willing
to admit subjective guilt, on certain conditions.
Is masturbation a sin?
If it makes you feel guilty when you do it, then it is a sin for you. Sin means
missing the mark. If you fall short of what you feel you ought to do, then
you sin in your own eyes.
No doubt, the Vatican
views masturbation as a serious sin. But this view ignores the fact that God
made human sexuality for other reasons than just procreation. First among these
is for personal pleasure, in masturbation or in marriage. 
Other writers, also in the Christian ministry, are less reserved in approving
sex pleasure outside of marriage.
Many Catholic authorities
still teach children that any sexual pleasure outside of marriage is sinful.
A Protestant theologian states dogmatically: Before marriage it is best to
keep every sort of sexual excitement toward your fiancee under complete control,
since it is not good for her. Judaism has maintained a more positive attitude
to sex, regarding marital intercourse as a religious duty within marriage, but
an official publication of the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America
tells young readers that all physical contact, including holding hands,
should be avoided before marriage because it brings into play forces the average
person cannot cope with.
This negative attitude
had a great deal of influence until recently because it was supported by the
threats and fears of pregnancy and disease. We know now that there is no divinely
ordained connection between premarital intercourse and pregnancy or venereal
On these premises, practices
like masturbation should be accepted as a natural phenomenon of puberty, no
more sinful than menstruation. In fact sexual self-stimulation is part of
healthy sexual development, which should be welcomed as Gods provision of
a temporary substitute for the full joys of sexual intercourse. 
One of the recommended
authors goes into great length to explain why masturbation is not sinful. It
is rather a dynamic kind of event, giving evidence of the individuals efforts
to move beyond the regressive and primitive elements so characteristic of sexuality
at an earlier stage of his life. Then to make his point still more clear,
the writer adds several paragraphs defending the moral value of masturbation.
Only a few passages will be quoted here.
It is not because masturbation
is so common that we exclude it from the category of sinfulness. It is rather
because it is a mark of growth, a sign of a person not seeking illicit pleasure
or a disordered experience of sexuality; it is a sign of a person seeking himself
and, in the only way that is available as far as the complicated process of
human growth is concerned, he is dealing with a transitional growing together
of the sexual dimensions of his personality.
You only complicate an
understanding of masturbation by using a moral category to describe it. This,
in fact, has been one of the complicating factors in the whole history of the
teaching of the Church about masturbation and mans experience of it in his
This has had terrible effects on human beings, confusing them
and misdirecting their energies, branding them with inappropriate scars, and
obscuring the true meaning of religion, morality, and sexual development. 
What aggravates the gravity
of the foregoing defense of masturbation is the stature of its author. He is
a priest no longer in the priestly ministry, but a prolific and influential
writer. One of his latest books is a full-length biography of a living American
So, too, premarital intercourse
is permissible and may even be commendable. The key word is selfishness.
Provided two people truly love each other, there is no reason why they should
not have sex.
Unselfish sex involves
a willingness to make a deep personal commitment. It involves a willingness
to give something of yourself other than the glands and the hormones
way this sort of relationship, this sort of commitment, is usually expressed
is through marriage.
Usually, I say.
Note that I am not making the blanket statement that all sex outside of marriage
is wrong and all sex inside of marriage is right. There are some terribly selfish
married people, and this is immoral. On the other hand, it may be possible
for two mature individuals to have a very complete, very unselfish relationship
without marriage 
The author carries this
norm of mature individuals to its logical conclusion. What about artificial
insemination? What if a married man is not able to provide any sperm at all
for his wife to conceive? In such cases, It is possible for the doctor to
obtain sperm from an anonymous donor and inject it into the woman so that the
couple can have a baby. Of course, there may be some legal problems as a result.
But on the moral level, there is no objection, so the gynecologists are giving
this sort of help to carefully selected and responsible couples who want it.
4. Homosexuality and Contraception Not Sinful
It is not surprising that
homosexuality should be treated extensively in the books commended by the New
Creation Series. The stance of the authors on homosexuality is consistent
with their position on sexual pleasure outside of marriage.
Some, like the priest-writer
who criticizes the Church for her teaching on masturbation, considers homosexuality
as a disturbed psychological condition, but it can hardly be classified as
a sin. 
Others go to great lengths, even a whole chapter, defending homosexuality
as morally indifferent.
Many heterosexuals think
that homosexuals have chosen to be homosexual, but most gay people know that
it is not a matter of choice. It is what they are. Therefore, the question
of whether homosexuality is bad or good is a pointless question. Homosexuality
exists just as heterosexuality does. 
Still others take for
granted that homosexuality is not morally bad. There is no evidence, they
claim, that people are born that way. The only definition of a homosexual
which makes sense is a person, who in adult life, prefers and has sex with people
of the same sex. But then a warning.
Beware! By calling a
person a homosexual or promiscuous we allow the label to become the person.
Thus, a person we refer to as homosexual remains for us no more than a person
who engages in sex with his own sex. How narrow-minded and immoral of us to
define somebody absolutely on the basis of his sex life! 
It is hardly necessary
to quote at length from the authors who take contraception for granted. The
practice is simply assumed to be part of the development of modern society.
The stress in the recommended sources is on the reliability of the methods of
artificial birth control. The most reliable, it is said, is sterilization,
which has the alleged advantage of increasing sexual pleasure.
Neither a vasectomy nor
a tubal ligation interferes with the enjoyment of sexual intercourse; they may
actually increase enjoyment because the worry about pregnancy and the need for
using any kind of device is gone. 
Vitae comes in for its share of criticism, as already seen. The
same priest-author who dismisses the Churchs teaching on masturbation also
gives his readers counsel on how to deal with Humanae Vitae.
We see the Christian community
adjusting itself to this pronouncement through a revitalized claim on the primacy
of individual conscience in making decisions such as that connected with the
regulation of birth. Christian people do not believe that every act of contraception
is a serious sin
It is better that they struggle to form their own consciences
than that they accept blindly and unthinkingly a teaching from outside their
own intimate experience. 
There is no suggestion, in this writers judgement, that believing Catholics
are to defer to the Churchs magisterium in forming their consciences.
5. Abortion Morally Justifiable
The same authors who sanction contraception are more or less favorable
to the direct killing of an unborn child.
Some of the recommended
writers treat the subject of abortion in detail. They describe the various
methods available and emphasize the physical risks involved for the woman who
has an abortion after the twelfth week of pregnancy. But the objective moral
question is left open, even when subjectively a person may have reservations
Anyone who believes that
the fetus is a human being with a soul from the moment of conception, and that
abortion (unless it occurs indirectly as a result of efforts to save the life
of the mother) is equivalent to murder is likely to suffer severe guilt feelings
if she has an abortion. However unconvincing this view may be to most people
(including an increasing number of Catholics), it has to be recognized as a
serious factor in the emotional consequences for a girl who holds it sincerely.
Other recommended writers
leave the decision up to the pregnant woman. It is for her to decide whether
she wants an abortion. If she is not certain whether the unborn child is a
human person, she now has the authority of the civil law to help her make a
decision. The Supreme Courts ruling, she is assured, stated that the U.S.
Constitution considers a being to be a person only after he or she is born.
Finally, New Creation
authorities who are presumably in the Catholic tradition favor a reassessment
of the Churchs uncompromising stand on abortion. Thus the fetuss right to
life is only one among many rights that must be balanced against each other.
The bias of the moral
policy implies the need for moral rules which seek to preserve human life.
But as a policy which leaves room for choicerather than entailing a fixed set
of rulesit is open to flexible interpretation when the circumstances point
to the wisdom of taking exception to the normal ordering of the rules in particular
cases. Yet, in that case, one is not genuinely taking exception to the rules.
More accurately, one would be deciding that, for the preservation or furtherance
of other values or rightspecies-rights, person-rightsa choice in favor of
abortion would be serving the sanctity of life. 
In less technical language, a woman may have an abortion if she foresees
that giving birth would be against, say, the rights of society to have physically
normal human beings come into the world, or the rights of a woman to decide
whether she really wants to allow the fetus she is carrying to be born.
A careful study of the
books recommended by New Creation, together with its indifference to what the
Holy Father calls the years of innocence, confirms the judgment expressed
in A Catholic Analysis of the New Creation Series. This series is predictably
harmful to the moral well-being of those for whom it was written.
 Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 37.
 Sol Gordon, Lets Make Sex A Household Word, 96.
 Ibidem, pgs. 159-61. Also quoting Lester A. Kirkendall, Peter B. Anderson, Bruno Bettelheim, and Isadore Rubin.
 Andrew Greeley, Sexual Intimacy, 197.
 Ray E. Short, Sex, Dating and Love, 116-118.
 Richard F. Hettlinger, Growing Up With Sex, 60, 15.
 Eugene Kennedy, What a Modern Catholic Believes About Sex, 57-58.
 Helen Jean Burn, Better than the Birds, Smarter than the Bees, 99.
 Eugene Kennedy, What a Modern Catholic Believe About Sex, 112.
 Eric W. Johnson, Love and Sex in Plain Language, 82.
 Sol Gordon, Lets Make Sex a Household Word, 122, 166.
 Eric W. Johnson, Love and Sex in Plain Language, 82.
 Eugene Kennedy, What a Modern Catholic Believes About Sex, 99-100.
 Richard F. Hettlinger, Growing Up With Sex, 140-141.
 Eric W. Johnson, Love and Sex in Plain Language, 87.
 Eugene Kennedy, What a Modern Catholic Believes About Sex, 105.
 Daniel Callahan, Abortion: Law, Choice and Morality, 105. Quoted in Eugene Kennedy, 106.
Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica