Catholic Guidelines to Sex Education

(A Catholic Answer to the American Bishops' Scandalous "Talking About Touching")

Father R. Bandas (RIP)
(Theologian, seminary rector, pastor, and peritus at the Second Vatican Council)


Keep them away from modern Catholic schools!


Editor's Note: The following article appeared some years ago in The Remnant.  When considering the  American Catholic Bishops' horrific sex-ed program, Talking About Touching, which is so immoral that many diocesan priests are now threatening to resign before implementing it, one can only imagine what Fr. Bandas would have to say today. His article is about the infection of public schools with the deadly plague of classroom sex-ed; it evidently never even occurred to him that Catholic schools would be next.  And, yet, here we are. We wholeheartedly support these courageous diocesan priests (novus ordo), by the way, who are rising up in protest over this latest scandal foisted on the Church by the American Bishops.  Put simply, when it comes to "Talking About Touching" we resist these Bishops to their faces and beg the Vatican to hear the voices of Catholic parents and priests everywhere who will suffer every penalty and indignity before subjecting the souls of little ones to this demonic program of systematic sexual abuse of children. MJM


Article 1


( The tendency to introduce sex education into the public schools of the country has been gaining in momentum during the past few years. The promoters of the program of sex education are of the opinion that sex crimes would be largely eliminated if adequate sex information were imparted in the schools.  Their aim is to give the young people a comprehensive and balanced view of sex.  Their program calls for special films on sex education, to be included in the curriculum.  It proposes, also, to integrate certain definite topics, relating to sex education, into the various units of the curriculum into which they fit most naturally.

The approach to sex questions is to be made through the subject matter of the various departments.  Sex life and reproduction among men are to be interpreted in the light of the processes which prevail in the plant and animal kingdoms.  This program of sex education is to permeate every subject in the curriculum and is to be supplemented by library books and pamphlets, dealing definitely with sex, by visual aids such as charts, stereopticons and motion pictures, and by periodic visits to museums showing human structures and fetal developments.

Article 2


The suggested program of sex education is open to the following serious objections:

A) The program is NATURALISTIC. Sacred Scripture represents chastity as a gift from God, fruit of the Holy Spirit to be developed and preserved by prayer, watchfulness and frequent reception of the sacraments.  Secondly, the program overlooks the fact of original sin and of the concupiscence of the flesh.  Man’s fallen nature is “wounded”, that is, his lower faculties are no longer subject to the higher but tend inordinately to the possession of their object.  Man is inclined to seek the pleasures of the flesh at the expense of the joys of the spirit.  More information may arouse man’s lower faculties into action without strengthening the will against them.  Well-known facts of experience make it abundantly clear that it is the flesh warring against the will unsupported by divine grace – and not ignorance – that is chiefly responsible for immorality.

Finally, the program attributes to purely human means a preventive value which by right belongs to such supernatural means as prayer, actual grace and the sacraments. 

B) The program is purely INTELLECTUALISTIC AND SCIENTIFIC and as such is open to the following serious objections:

1.      Mere instruction is illuminative, not operative. Increase in knowledge does not necessarily imply progress in virtue, morality does not go hand in hand with intellectual advancement, intellectual culture does not in itself mean civilization.  Mere sex education is not a cure for sex aberration.  The words of Ovid apply marvelously here: “I know the right and love it too. I hate the wrong yet wrong pursue.” And St. Paul expresses much the same idea when he says: “For that which I work. I understand not.  For I do not that good which I will, but the evil which I hate, that I do.

2.      In every classroom there are youngsters who have escaped contamination and who should be kept in their happy ignorance as long as possible.  G. Stanley Hall of Clark University calls this indiscriminate sex education a “psychic rape of the young.”

3.      Experience clearly shows that a mere teaching of an evil does not cure that evil.  Warning about the dangers of uncontrolled indulgence often constitutes for the listener the first step to immorality.  Medical students who know most about the physiology and pathology of sex organs, of the bodily dangers of promiscuity, are often most lax in sexual matters. M. Gatterer tells us that the “Inefficiency of bare knowledge is proved, e.g. by the appalling statistics of the sexual pest among the most cultured.  Prewar accounts hailing from Berlin quote 9% among the working people and 25% among university students” (Educating to Purity”,  p. 103)

4.      Mere sex education rouses and inflames the imagination and curiosity of the young, awakens the dormant monster of sensuality, and consequently proves a temptation rather than a help.  Training in purity should aim above all in preventing sex from dominating the child’s mind and mental life to such an extent as to make him a slave to it.

5.      Physical details of sex, diagrams, illustrations, photographs of the male and female organs, and of the sex act – which are presented to the child as if he were a student of gynecology – impress themselves indelibly on the youngster’s imagination, and cause serious difficulties in regard to thought-control and action-control.  These graphic descriptions break down the safeguards of modesty and intensify the desires of the flesh. The immorality of the young, the abuse of marriage, and the practice of birth control are often traceable to a lack of reverence for sexual life.

6.      Proper sex education should develop not only the mind but also the will.  As far as sex matters are concerned, education of the will should precede that of the mind.  The will should be trained, disciplined strengthened – by both natural and supernatural means – so that it can resist the allurements of the flesh when the child is initiated into the mysteries of life.  Where the will is not forearmed by a complete Christian education and training, it is better to leave the child in ignorance in regard to matters of sex.

7.      Public school teachers as a class are not sufficiently trained to teach the subject or present it in a proper manner. Others lack the proper reverence for matters of sex, the necessary ethical and moral convictions, and the temperamental stability to discuss matters of this kind.  Still others might bring suspicion upon themselves.

C.     Sex education in the school program is public and collective.  Its universality of method and content do not take into consideration the individual and relative needs of children.  It has no way of meeting the needs of the individual pupil.  Segregation of the sexes is no solution to this difficulty since boys and girls are in the habit of exchanging information given to groups.  Such exchange of knowledge often leads to sinful explorations and experiments. Sex instruction should be given in the measure in which the mentality of the child and the circumstances in which he lives demands it.  Sex education cannot be the same for all nor always given at the same age.  The contents and manner of instructing must very from child to child.

D.        The school program is non-spiritualistic and materialistic.  The similarities between human life, on the one hand, and plant and animal life on the other, and the purely physical character of human reproduction are emphasized beyond all measure.  Human propagation is not mere animal breeding.  Man’s origin is essentially different from that of the animal. While man’s body is generated by the parents his soul is created by God.  This soul is spiritual, endowed with an intellect and free will, and made in the image and likeness of God.  It was redeemed by the life and death of the God-Man, and is destined for the beatific vision of God.  Man is not short-lived like an animal; he is a person, possessing inviolable rights and destined for a blessed immortality.

In the preceding paragraphs we have briefly outlined the school program on sex education and pointed out its purely naturalistic, intellectualistic, materialistic and public character.  We shall now indicate the main points of the program on sex education propounded by Catholic theologians and pedagogues.

Article 3


Catholic pedagogues usually enumerate the following guides for determining the time of sex instruction:

1.   Questions of the child manifesting certain personal needs and the requirements of conscience.

2.     Indications of psycho-sexual development.  The seventh grade is usually the period when youngsters begin to pick up sex information in the street, the period when boys begin to use dirty words and tell coarse and obscene stories.

3.   The crisis of puberty.  Boys usually undergo these changes in their fourteenth year, the girls a little earlier.  Each case must be studied individually and instruction must be imparted privately.

4.   The environment in which a child happens to be placed.  Here again the instruction must be private and suited to the circumstances.

Catholic pedagogues divide the natural undisturbed development of a child into four periods –childhood, puberty, adolescence, and maturity – and determine the contents of sex instruction and method of presentation for each period.  But we must not overlook the fact that a wicked precocious sex enlightenment is being forced upon the child from every direction. Sex instruction from wrong sources, of a very wrong quality and quantity, is constantly being distilled into the child’s mind.  Let us enumerate some of these sources of corruption:

1.      Motion pictures and plays, pictures and plays.

2.      Sex magazines, novels, books, pictures, songs, billboards, calendars and advertisements.

3.      Daily newspapers with their sex features and daily record of sex crimes.

4.      Second-hand book shops and book dealers

5.      Fashions, styles, dresses, bathing beaches, sports.

6.      Roadhouses, taverns, night clubs, beer parlors, strip tease performances and modern dancing.

7.      Art albums, art magazines, show magazines, galleries, museums.

8.      Television with its serial sex and love stories and even sports programs with their immoral advertising-phonograph records, radio.


This unprecedented condition in our country not only obliges parents and educators to begin the forestalling private instruction sooner than in normal circumstances, but imposes upon them the difficult task of correcting the erroneous sex information which the child is assimilating daily at every turn.

Article 4


In this section we shall consider the child’s natural undisturbed development and indicate the contents of sex instruction to be imparted in childhood, at puberty, during adolescence, and at the age of maturity.


The following principles should govern sex instruction during this period:

1. Give as little sex instruction as you must; give as much training in chastity as you can.

2. All scientific instruction about sex matters must be carefully avoided.  Such precocious instruction would arouse instincts of sensuality which the will would not be prepared to master.

3. The instruction should deal with modesty and immodesty – not with purity and impurity.  Modesty is that delicate feeling which shuns as evil anything that may lead to impurity; Improper looks, words, gestures, uncovering and touching of the body.  These actions are to be represented as sinful only when done willfully and to obtain “wicked pleasure”. No further explanation may be given of this “wicked pleasure” nor of the ways in which it may be procured.  The child’s curiosity and imagination in regard to sex matters are so strong that such knowledge might prove a continual source of temptation.  Those in the group who are guilty of grievous sin will readily understand what is meant by “wicked pleasure”

4. The difference in sexes, the different properties and attributes of the sex, should be explained not in connection with the 6th Commandment but in connection with the catechetical lesson on the creation of Adam and Eve.  The catechist should show how everything about the sexes comes from God.  Apart from these few points, all other explanations should be referred to private, individual instruction, and to confession.

5. Emphasis should be placed on an integral religious education, on the moral preparation of the child, on the formation of his will

6. The child should be grounded, first of all, in the natural virtues: docility, obedience, humility, sense of responsibility, devotion to duty, unselfishness, regular habits, steeling of the body through hard work, bridling curiosity, custody of the eyes, mortification and self-denial, self-control against the excesses of the senses and imagination, temperance in food and drink.  The child should be constantly warned of the dangers of the following habits:  idleness, laziness, effeminacy, vanity, unrestrained curiosity, pleasure-seeking, day-dreaming, sentimental reading, early love making, bad company.

7. The child must be taught to use the indispensable supernatural aids of religion.  He must learn to fortify his will and arm himself against future temptations by daily prayer, frequent attendance at Mass and reception of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion, by imitating the example of the Savior and of the Saints, by the practice of the presence of God, by reflecting on the heinousness of sin, on death, judgment, hell, and heaven, etc.

Crisis of Puberty

Instruction at this point must be private and individual, governed by the mentality of the child, the questions he asks, the needs which he reveals, and the circumstances in which he lives. The teacher should spiritualize instinct and show that the physiological is merely the foundation of something sacred and sublime.  This instruction might comprise the following points:

1. The dignity of the human body created by God.

2.  God the author of different sexes.

3.  The sacred character and creative power of sex.

4.  Characteristics of the age of puberty.

5.  The providential purpose and use of the sex appetite.

6. Nocturnal emissions, menstruation, experienced even by saints.

7.  Desecration of the temple of the body by sin.

For sketches of instructions to be given at the time of puberty consult M. Gatterer, “Educating to Purity”, p. 109; F.M. Kirsch, “Sex Education and Training in Chastity”, p. 196.

Catholic pedagogues insist that youngsters who in their curiosity ask the question, “From where do babies come,” should be told the truth. Most educators condemn the “stork” story as a downright lie which may raise unwholesome suspicions in the child’s mind in regard to the origin of human beings.  Yet the selection of appropriate terms in which one might tactfully explain the truth is no easy task.  We shall quote an attempts in this regard by Fr. M Gatterer, S.J.:

Love must prompt parents to work along with God. What a privilege it is for parents to be permitted to work with God.  That is why when parents are about to bring a child into life with God’s help, they must intimately and lovingly embrace each other.  And in that embrace life-germs out of the father’s body must be united to life-germs in the mother’s body.  Therefore you are the child of my love, of the love of your mother and father.  Then, if God wills it, for everything depends on His will, the infant’s little body comes into existence, and God breathes into it an immortal soul.  The little body grows in the mother’s body for nine months, through the mother’s blood, till it becomes strong enough to live by itself.  Then after nine months the little child comes into the world from the mother’s body; even the Child Jesus chose thus to come into the world.  Indeed, His body was fashioned miraculously in His Mother’s womb; for our savior had, as you know, no human father.”


If the training and education in this period is collective, each group should comprise young men alone or women alone who have received an integrated religious formation and who have individually been instructed in the mysteries of life.   This instruction may be given in the classroom, in the discussion clubs, in athletic clubs, at retreats, etc.  Here again all physiological and scientific explanations should be avoided.  Sex training is not a course in anatomy, medicine, or gynecology.  Besides, the young people are apt to pun on crude terms or turn into ridicule technical details. 

The lecturer should point out the natural and supernatural means of cultivating purity; emphasize the ideal and Christian atmosphere which should surround all friendship: insist on the respect due to all womanhood; and dwell on the beauty of a true and healthy love.  He should warn them against evil companions, flirting, smutty conversations, salacious literature, objectionable moving pictures, vicious taverns, and night clubs.  He should point out the disastrous consequence of immorality for the individual, for the family, and for society.


Young people in this category should be given an explanation of the sacrament of marriage, of the attributes of the matrimonial contract, of the practices opposed to the primary purpose of marriage, (the pro-creation and education of children).  They should have a clear understanding of the nature, purpose, and duration of courtship.  The essential qualities, which one should seek in a life’s partner should be indicated to them.  The spiritual and religious preparations which should precede the reception of the Sacrament of Matrimony should receive special emphasis.

Article 5



Sex instruction should be given, in the first place, by those who by their state have the obligation and the grace to teach children – the parents.  The purpose of marriage is the procreation and education of children, and training in purity is only one phase of character education as a whole.  Parents are responsible to God for the care of their children; they are interested in their spiritual welfare, they are ever watchful over their charges and enjoy the confidence of their offspring.  They know their children best; they know how to choose wisely the terms of the instruction, how to adapt their instruction to the child’s mind and needs, how to select the proper words, how to answer questions.

At any rate, it would be unto the eternal shame of the parents if by their indifference and neglect they forced their children to pick up sex instruction on the streets, in the alley, in the gutter, from the  street corner “gang” and from vicious companions.  In fact, children may lose all respect for their parents because of the vile manner in which the story of procreation may be presented to them by the foul mouths of those who have no reverence for human nature, no respect for the truth, who are more intent on poisoning than preserving our youth.

Most educators, even non-Catholic, agree that sex instruction is the duty first of all of the parents.  But many are of the opinion that parents are not in a position to handle this problem.  They advance the following reasons for the incompetence of the parents:  Lack of accurate information; lack of a proper vocabulary; lack of a proper instructional method; ignorance of the need for such instruction; timidity; the tendency of the parents to leave the child in these matters to himself, or to his companions, or to his teacher, or spiritual adviser.  Hence the school, these writers conclude, must take over the task of sex education.

Catholic educators cannot accept this conclusion.  If parents are not qualified, they should be trained so as to become qualified.  Parents must be instructed about their obligation and duty in sermons, at missions, and retreats, in the confessional.  Secondly, parents must be furnished with the contents and form of such instructions.  The Holy Name Societies, Christian Mothers’ Clubs, and Parent-Teacher associations should make it their special objective to prepare parents for this all-important task.  In seeking for a teacher or lecturer, these organizations should remember that a physician or a nurse is not always a safe guide.  Frequently such lectures stress exclusively the physical side of sex and contain unethical principles.  Where parents are unable to obtain guidance from others, they should read a suitable instruction to the child at the proper time or have the child, under their supervision, read it for himself.

Proper instruction about sex training should be given especially to parents who look upon the married life as a state of indulgence and lustful self-satisfaction.  In preparing these parents to give instructions to their children the parents themselves are being, and will be, instructed.

Parents and Spiritual Advisers

The parents of some children are divorced:  others have completely lost the confidence of their children; others are utterly corrupt and incapable of directing their children in any way; some children are orphans.  In these cases the pastor or the confessor (as deputy of the parent) must impart individually and privately, the knowledge to which the child has a right in keeping with his age. 

The spiritual adviser must always proceed with great caution, tact, and reserve. The slightest impropriety of language might render him liable to misunderstanding. He must all times avoid all physiological explanations that might bring suspicions upon himself and upon the priestly and religious life.  The confessor should be mindful in this respect of the admonition of Canon Law:  “The priest must absolutely guard against detaining penitents with useless and too inquisitive questions, especially concerning the Sixth Commandment, lest he may by imprudent questions teach the youth what they should  not know.” (Canon 888, No.2.)

Article 6


From the principles laid down in the preceding pages it is clear that the sex program proposed by the State Boards of Health and Education is unacceptable.  That program, as we pointed out, is naturalistic, purely intellectualistic, materialistic, and pedagogically unsound.  Its insistence on the purely physical and physiological and scientific side of sex would lead to a breakdown of the sense of shame and of reverence for sex, to levity and vulgarity and ultimately to immorality. Its collective character makes no provision for the personal needs and problems of the child. Apart from all these difficulties, many school teachers are unfit for this task.  Some lack the right spirit and the necessary ethical and moral convictions, others are excitable, self-conscience, easily embarrassed, or without respect among the pupils.  Still others would expose themselves to suspicion.

Catholic parents will never consent to have the public schools or state universities instruct their children in such questions as sterilization, unwanted pregnancies, abortion, divorce, birth control, promiscuity, prostitution, masturbation, problems of courtship and marriage, the purpose of marriage, (and, though not considered appropriate just 30 years ago, today this would certainly include homosexuality). 

Catholic parents will never consent to divest these questions of all ethical, moral, and religious significance.  The school – whether  Catholic or public – is only a deputy of the parents. It participates in the office and rights of the parents who alone are finally responsible to nature and to the Author of nature for the rearing of the children.  Historically and naturally, the state was instituted to protect individual and family rights, not to destroy them.  The state may not wrest the child from the parents or force on the children an instruction to which the parents would conscientiously object.

Natural motives are of themselves of limited efficiency.  To these must always be added the help of divine grace and such supernatural motives as the following:  Man’s body is the property of the Creator and of the Lord and Redeemer; man’s body is the temple of the Holy Spirit; God is omnipresent and omniscient; the tongue and the entire body are consecrated by Holy Communion; The body is destined to rise on the last day glorious.  To these motives should be added instruction on the punishments of the impure (deluge, Sodom and Gomorrha, David); the beauty of purity, the eternal blessings and joys of the pure of heart.

Pope Paul VI on the Need for “Education in Chastity”

“On this occasion, we wish to draw the attention of educators, and of all who perform duties of responsibility in regard to the common good of human society, to the need of creating an atmosphere favorable to education in chastity, that is, to the triumph of healthy liberty over license by means of respect for the moral order.

“Everything in the modern media of social communications which leads to sensual excitation and unbridled customs, as well as every form of pornography and licentious performances, must arouse the frank and unanimous reaction of all who are solicitous for the progress of civilization and the defense of the supreme good of the human spirit.  Vainly would one seek to justify such depravation with the pretext of artistic or scientific exigencies, or to deduce an argument form the freedom allowed in this sector by the public authorities.

“To rulers, who are those principally responsible for the common good and who can do so much to safeguard moral customs, we say:  do not allow the morality of your peoples to be degraded; do not permit that by legal means practices contrary to the natural and divine law be introduced into the fundamental cell, the family…”

(Humanae Vitae, Paul VI)

Pope Pius XI on the Error of “So-Called Sex Education”

“Hence every form of pedagogic naturalism which in any way excludes or weakens supernatural Christian formation in the teaching of youth, is false.  Every method of education founded either in whole or in part on the denial or forgetfulness of original sin and of grace, and relying on the sole powers of human nature, is unsound.  Such, generally speaking, are those modern systems bearing various names which appeal to the pretended self-government and unrestrained freedom on the part of the child, and which diminish or even suppress the teacher’s authority and action, attributing to the child an exclusive primacy of initiative, and an activity independent of any higher law natural or divine, in the work of his education…

“Another grave danger is that naturalism which nowadays invades the field of education in that most delicate matter of purity of morals. Far too common is the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex education, falsely imagining they can forearm youth against the dangers of sensuality by means purely natural, such as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so they argue, and to harden them, as it were, against such dangers.

“Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and that law of which the Apostle speaks, ‘as warring against the law of my mind’ (Rom.vii, 23), and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect not so much of ignorance of intellect as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsupported by the means of grace.

“In this extremely delicate matter, if, all things considered, some private instruction is found necessary and opportune on the part of those who hold from God the commission to teach and who have the  grace of state, every precaution must nevertheless be taken.  Such precautions are well known in traditional Christian education, and are adequately described by Antoniano cited above, when he says:

“’Such is our misery and inclination to sin, that often in the very things considered to be remedies against sin, we find occasions for and inducements to sin itself.   Hence it is of the highest importance that a good father, while discussing with his son a matter so delicate, should be well on his guard and not descend to details, nor refer to the various ways in which this infernal hydra destroys with its poison so large a portion of the world.  Otherwise it may happen that instead of extinguishing this fire, he unwittingly stirs or kindles it in the simple and tender heart of the child.  Speaking generally, during the period of childhood it suffices to employ those remedies which produce the double effect of opening the door to the virtue of purity and closing the door upon vice.’’

 (Christian Education of Youth, by Pope Pius XI, December 31, 1929)

Pope Pius XII on the Parents Role as Teacher

“How joyous is the springtime of childhood, unruffled by wind or storm.  But the day will come when the childish heart will feel new impulses stirring within it:  new desires will disturb the serenity of those early years.  In that time of trial, Christian mothers, remember that to train the will to resist the attacks of evil and the insidious temptations of passion during that period of transition from the unconscious purity of infancy to the triumphant purity of adolescence you have a task of the highest importance to fulfill.  You have to prepare you sons and daughters so that they may pass with unfaltering steps, like those  who pick their way among serpents, through that time of crisis and physical change;  and pass through it without losing anything of the joy of innocence, preserving intact that natural instinct of modesty with which Providence has girt them as a check upon wayward passion.  That sense of modesty, which in its spontaneous abhorrence from the impure is akin to the sense of religion, is made of little account nowadays; but you, mothers will take care that they do not lose it through indecency in dress or self-adornment, or through unbecoming familiarities or immoral spectacles; on the contrary, you will seek to make it more delicate and alert, more upright and sincere.  You will keep a watchful eye on their steps, you will not suffer the whiteness of  their souls to be stained and contaminated by corrupt and  corrupting company; you will inspire them with a high esteem and jealous love for purity, advising them to commend themselves to the sure and motherly protection of the Immaculate Virgin.

“Finally, with the discretion of a mother and a teacher, you will not fail to watch for and to discern the moment in which certain unspoken questions have occurred to their minds and are troubling their senses.  It will then be your duty to you daughters, the father’s duty to your sons, carefully and delicately  to unveil the truth as far as it appears necessary, to give a prudent, true and Christian answer to those  questions and set their minds at rest.  If imparted by the lips of Christian parents, at the proper time and in the proper measure, and with the proper precautions, the revelation of the mysterious and marvelous laws of life will be received by them with reverence and gratitude and will enlighten their minds with far less danger than if they learned them haphazardly..”

(From an address by Pope Pius XII Guiding Christ’s Little Ones, 1941)