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Supplement to
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, or—as is termed in “Familiaris Consortio”—“the 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 II’s 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 serenity—while still in the years of innocence—by opening the way to vice. [1]

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 child’s curiosity wane during this stage. In fact, children are interested—often preoccupied with sexual jokes, pictures, words and friends’ stories … They anxiously watch their bodies for changes and wonder when erections and emissions, menstruation and ‘real’ sexual impulses will begin.” [2]

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 Mary’s virginity.

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 God’s 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 “shouldn’ts” 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 emotional needs.
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 sexual relations.

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 individual’s own conscience.” Each one must decide “which alternatives are best and most workable for himself.” [3]

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 Whitehead’s term) who attracts us to follow along with him by his gentle and seductive lures. [4]

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 VI’s encyclical on marital morality.

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. [5]

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.” [6]

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 disease.

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 God’s provision of a temporary substitute for the full joys of sexual intercourse.” [7]

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 individual’s 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 man’s experience of it in his own life … 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. [8]

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 cardinal.

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 … The 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 [9]

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.” [10]

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.” [11]

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. [12]

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! [13]

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. [14]

Humanae Vitae comes in for its share of criticism, as already seen. The same priest-author who dismisses the Church’s 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. [15]

There is no suggestion, in this writer’s judgement, that believing Catholics are to defer to the Church’s 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 about aborting.

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. [16]

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 Court’s ruling,” she is assured, “stated that the U.S. Constitution considers a being to be a person only after he or she is born.” [17]

Finally, New Creation authorities who are presumably in the Catholic tradition favor a reassessment of the Church’s uncompromising stand on abortion. Thus “the fetus’s right to life is only one among many rights that must be balanced against each other.” [18]

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 choice—rather than entailing a fixed set of rules—it 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 right—species-rights, person-rights—a choice in favor of abortion would be serving the sanctity of life. [19]

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.

Concluding Observations

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.

[1] Pope John Paul II, Familiaris Consortio, 37.

[2] Sol Gordon, Let’s Make Sex A Household Word, 96.

[3] Ibidem, pgs. 159-61. Also quoting Lester A. Kirkendall, Peter B. Anderson, Bruno Bettelheim, and Isadore Rubin.

[4] Andrew Greeley, Sexual Intimacy, 197.

[5] Ibedem, 15.

[6] Ray E. Short, Sex, Dating and Love, 116-118.

[7] Richard F. Hettlinger, Growing Up With Sex, 60, 15.

[8] Eugene Kennedy, What a Modern Catholic Believes About Sex, 57-58.

[9] Helen Jean Burn, Better than the Birds, Smarter than the Bees, 99.

[10] Ibedem, 21-22.

[11] Eugene Kennedy, What a Modern Catholic Believe About Sex, 112.

[12] Eric W. Johnson, Love and Sex in Plain Language, 82.

[13] Sol Gordon, Let’s Make Sex a Household Word, 122, 166.

[14] Eric W. Johnson, Love and Sex in Plain Language, 82.

[15] Eugene Kennedy, What a Modern Catholic Believes About Sex, 99-100.

[16] Richard F. Hettlinger, Growing Up With Sex, 140-141.

[17] Eric W. Johnson, Love and Sex in Plain Language, 87.

[18] Eugene Kennedy, What a Modern Catholic Believes About Sex, 105.

[19] Daniel Callahan, Abortion: Law, Choice and Morality, 105. Quoted in Eugene Kennedy, 106.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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