October 30, 2005 Homily by Fr. Robert Altier Thirty-first Sunday in Ordinary Time
Reading I (Malachi 1:14b-2:2b, 8-10)
Reading II (1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13)
Gospel (St. Matthew 23:1-12)
In the first reading today, God, speaking through His prophet Malachi, speaks to the priests and says to them, You have turned aside from the way I have taught you, and you have led many astray by your instructions. Therefore, I have made you contemptible before the people. Never before have these words been so true as they are now. What I have to say today is a tragedy, but it needs to be said because once again the bishops of the United States are trying to cause a scandal and to destroy our children. Parents need to be aware of what is going on.
Back in 2002, after the bishops very hastily put together something that they call Protecting God’s Children, the charter for protecting children from sexual abusers, one of the things that was put in there, and this is something that is certainly laudatory, is that they wanted to raise awareness of child sexual abuse in all of the dioceses of the United States. Well, they have just recently interpreted their document to determine that that means every single diocese in the United States is absolutely required to have programs that are going to raise this awareness. Again, by itself that sounds very good; however, there are two different elements to this thing.
The first part of it is something that all employees, as well as all volunteers who would work with children in any capacity, are required to take. We just did that last week under obedience from the archbishop, and what I can tell you is the program by itself was worthless enough. It was fairly innocuous, didn’t say much, except for two points that really stuck out. Number one, they were presenting a series of myths regarding sexual abuse. One of the myths that they put up there was that homosexuals are more likely to commit child sexual abuse than heterosexuals. The reason they put that up there is because if you look at the numbers in America, first of all, remembering that only 2% of people in America call themselves homosexual (98% do not), they look at the numbers and they say, “Look, these 98% of the people committed more crimes of sexual abuse than these 2%.” That is true enough. However, if you look at the ratio of sex abuse crimes committed by the 2% as opposed to the 98%, there is no comparison. In fact, in the Church more than 85% of all the sexual abuse cases that have been pressed or come forward are homosexual. So it is a deceptive lie. Then they went on to say something else which really struck a chord in me; it said, “Parents must monitor all programs that their children would be involved in.” Well, I couldn’t agree more, except that the program the bishops are forcing upon our children the parents are not allowed to monitor. That is the reason why I am here to speak against this, because you need to know for the sake of your children what is going on.
First of all, the bishops hired a woman by the name of Teresa Kettelkamp to be the head of this Protecting God’s Children program. Ms. Kettelkamp has affiliations with some pro-abortion movements and organizations–the Feminist Majority, for instance. Ms. Kettelkamp claims that she is not pro-abortion, but at the same time she also claimed that she has never heard of or met a woman named Eleanor Smeal, who is the head of the Feminist Majority. But it is very interesting that if you looked on their website, Ms. Kettelkamp was on an advisory board for an arm of that particular organization, and she also received an award from that organization that is called the “Breaking the Glass Ceiling Award.” That is annually given by Eleanor Smeal at a banquet. So unless Ms. Smeal was sick or something that night, there is no possible way that Ms. Kettelkamp could not have known who she was and she certainly cannot claim that she has never met her.
This woman recently sent out a memo to every bishop in the country. In that memo she said that every single child in a Catholic school setting, whether that be the regular school or CCD, is required to take a “Safe Touch Program.” Now, mind you, this starts in kindergarten. There are only two groups of children who do not have to take it: number one, children who have had a similar program in a public school (Since when do we teach regarding sexuality exactly what they teach in the public school about sexuality?); and number two, the parents who will sign a form for the insurance company to opt out of this hideous program. Even if you decide to opt your children out of the program, of course they are going to come back into the classroom with a bunch of kids who have just been through the program and they are going to be affected by it anyway. But the reason why Ms. Kettelkamp tells us that every child in the Catholic schools is absolutely required to take this is because we cannot trust parents to teach their children these things because we know, she says, that some child abuse takes place in the home. Isn’t it interesting that the reason this unfortunate thing was even started is because of all the child sexual abuse that has taken place in the Church, yet we are going to say that because a few occasions of child sexual abuse take place in the home we therefore are going to vilify all parents and we are going to say that we cannot trust parents to teach their kids. But we in the Church–who have scandalized the whole world by what is going on–we can trust ourselves to teach our children what is good for them.
Well, I recently had an opportunity, much to my chagrin, to be able to see one of the books. This by itself was pretty astounding because as a parent if you want to monitor this program they will not let you. In the dioceses where such programs have been implemented, parents who have objected just tend to get pushed aside. If they continue to press then they show them a marketing book. Of course, they took everything offensive out of that particular book so the parents can look at that. And if you continue to push, reluctantly they will allow you to sit down in a principal’s office and look at the book that your five-year-old is looking at. I got to look at that book and it was disgusting. Keep in mind also before I say anything else that a number of the supplementary materials on the bishop’s list of books that the children should be looking at are approved by Planned Parenthood. At least four of the people on the Board of Directors for this program that we are being required to take that they call VIRTUS, which interestingly is a word that means “strength,” have some very, very unfortunate affiliations with Planned Parenthood organizations, or Planned Parenthood affiliated organizations, or SIECUS, which is a radical feminist pro-abortion group. Yet these are the ones who are telling us what our kids ought to be looking at.
In this particular book, which I will spare you the details, it began by having our five-year-old children, after looking at a line drawing of a bunch of nude people, turn the page and they have anatomically correct names for all of the genitalia and the children are to repeat these out loud three times. These are five-year-olds. I had to go back and call a friend of mine who is a nurse and say, “Can you tell me what this word means? I’ve never heard it before.” But our five-year-olds are supposed to be repeating it. They claim that this is not a sex-ed course, but rather they say, “This is a Safe Touch course.” In one of the books, after repeating all of the vulgar words as well other things, the children then are to draw pictures on a silhouette of various body parts, although it says, “Not the private ones.” They just repeat the words for the private parts, but they don’t have to draw those.
These things are nothing short of disgusting, and, if I may say, they completely violate the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. Let me read to you from Paragraph No. 78 of the Vatican document called The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality:
“It can be said that a child is in the stage described in John Paul II’s words as ‘the years of innocence’ from about five years of age until puberty–the beginning of which can be set at the first signs of changes in the boy or girl’s body (the visible effect of an increased production of sexual hormones). This period of tranquility and serenity must never be disturbed by unnecessary information about sex. During those years, before any physical sexual development is evident, it is normal for the child’s interests to turn to other aspects of life. The rudimentary instinctive sexuality of very small children has disappeared. Boys and girls of this age are not particularly interested in sexual problems, and they prefer to associate with children of their own sex. So as not to disturb this important natural phase of growth, parents will recognize that prudent formation in chaste love during this period should be indirect, in preparation for puberty, when direct information will be necessary.”
The Church is very clear on a couple of points: number one, that during the innocent years of a child’s life they are not to be assailed with all kinds of information regarding sexuality; number two, that it is not for a Catholic school to be teaching this filth. It is for parents to teach sexuality to their children, not for us to try to indoctrinate children in some Planned Parenthood idea of what sexuality is supposed to be. The bishops’ program has gone directly against what the Catholic Church teaches regarding sexuality itself. It makes it entirely base and disgusting rather than something which is exalted, holy, and beautiful.
In this program that we had to go through, I raised my hand and pointed out a few of these things. The man who was facilitating it did a reasonable enough job, other than the fact that he did not even know the name of the program; but beyond that, when I asked the questions, he refused to answer them and he just kept saying, “This program is only for adults,” that is, the program we were taking as adults. When I said, “I know that. I’m talking about the one that is being forced on the children in school,” he kept saying, “No, this program is only for adults.” Then when finally pushed, he said, “No, it’s up to each individual parish to decide whether or not they are going to have this program, and even from there it is up to the individual teacher to decide what words to use that would be appropriate to the children.” That is directly contrary to what Ms. Kettelkamp has told the bishops. Beyond that, thanks be to God, the pastor of this parish stood up and very courageously said in front of everybody, “This program will not be implemented in the Saint Agnes School.” Thanks be to God, at least we will not have to worry about it here, but you need to tell your friends because it will be implemented in almost every school throughout the United States.
In case you think that I am speaking completely out of turn, I am going to read to you a few questions about this program that Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Oregon has written. Bishop Vasa is a very interesting man because in this case he is a member of the Bishop’s Committee on Protecting God’s Children. So this is not just some renegade bishop out there who thinks this is stupid. This is somebody who is a member of their own committee and he is refusing to allow this program to be implemented in his diocese. Let me read to you the questions that Bishop Vasa asked:
“Are such programs effective? Do such programs impose an unduly burdensome responsibility on very young children to protect themselves rather than insisting that parents take such training and take on the primary responsibility for protecting their children? Where do these programs come from? Is it true that Planned Parenthood has a hand in or at least a huge influence on many of them? Is it true that other groups, actively promoting early sexual activity for children, promote these programs in association with their own perverse agendas? Do such programs involve, even tangentially, the sexualization of children, which is precisely a part of the societal evil we are striving to combat? Does such a program invade the Church-guaranteed right of parents over the education of their children in sexual matters? Do I have the right to mandate such programs and demand that parents sign a document proving that they choose to exercise their right not to have their child involved? Do such programs introduce children to sex-related issues at age-inappropriate times? Would such programs generate a fruitful spiritual harvest? Would unsatisfactory answers to any of the questions above give sufficient reason to resist such programs?”
Then he goes on to say:
“There are many concerned parents who have indicated to me that the answers to all of these questions are unsatisfactory. If this is true, do these multiple problematic answers provide sufficient reason to resist the charter interpretation? At very least, even the possible unsatisfactory answers to any of the questions above leaves me unwilling and possibly even unable to expose the children of the diocese to harm under the guise of trying to protect them from harm.”
That, thanks be to God, is a man who has his head screwed on straight. When we are making a five-year-old child responsible for his or her own protection rather than the parents being responsible for that, when we are taking away the God-given right of parents to teach their children regarding sexuality and taking it on ourselves, when we are telling parents to monitor the program but not allowing them to do so, there is something seriously wrong with this program. It is time that parents stand up, plant their feet firmly on the ground, and say, “No.” This is especially necessary for the fathers because it is your job especially to protect your children. You cannot allow them to be brainwashed and to be violated by things that are inappropriate for these little children to hear and to see. This is not what the Church is supposed to be doing, and yet this is being forced down the throat of every single child who has any affiliation with a Catholic school in this country. It is time that we stand up and simply say, “NO.”
* This text was transcribed from the audio recording of a homily by Father Robert Altier with minimal editing.