UP Catholic 11 27 2015 E Edition Page 11

www.upcatholic.org THE U.P. CATHOLIC November 27, 2015 11 W hile some parents might be happy to avoid the awkward conversations that arise around human sexuality by allowing the school system to provide their childrens sex education, it is nonetheless important for parents to recognize that they are the most significant teachers and models for their own children as they mature sexually. Instilling a healthy at- titude about sexuality in young people involves a variety of considerations, including conveying a proper sense of constraints and boundaries. These boundaries arise organ- ically through the virtue of chastity, by which a person acquires the abil- ity to renounce self, to make sacrifices and to wait generously in consideration of loving fidelity toward a future spouse, out of self-respect, and out of fidelity to God. This critical process of developing sexual self-mastery is an area where parents are particularly well suited to help their children. At the end of the day, the parental duty to influence in a positive way a child's upbringing around sexuality cannot be abdicated or delegated. Parents know their children in a personal and individual way and are able to determine their readiness for, and receptivity to, sexual information. Moreover, the reality of parental love to- wards their children enables a parent to say certain hard things in love that may need to be said, in a manner that only a parent may effectively be able to say it. I recall the story that a middle-aged woman once shared with me about some- thing that happened when she was 12. She was at home watching TV with her moth- er, who was the strong authority figure in the family. At a certain moment, a scene came across the screen where a woman was removing her clothing and dancing in front of a group of men. Her mother glanced over at her and without skipping a beat said: Ill kill you if you ever do that. Her daughter understood, of course, that she didnt mean it literally, but appreciated that her mother cared enough about her to be very direct: What my Mom said on that and many other occasions stayed with me for years af- terwards, and helped me to reflect carefully on the right use of my sexuality. Parents influence their children in thousands of dif- ferent ways, sometimes not even realizing how particular comments or observations they make can become highly significant to their childs thinking. Helping children to think correctly about human sexuality remains a delicate and challenging task in the midst of a sex-sat- urated society like our own. Indeed, our thinking about human sexuality can easily fo off the rails, and sexual activity itself can quickly degrade into a selfish and self-referential kind of activity, even within marriage, if we arent careful to attend to deeper realities. Spouses who have made a lifelong marital commitment to each other in the presence of God are uniquely empowered to live in a way that exceeds merely viewing each other as objects or as a means to satisfying their appetites; they become called to, and capa- ble of, a higher kind of love that involves friendship, sacrifice and self-giving. Otherwise, a dominance of things over persons can take over, leading to forms of selfishness in which persons are used in the same way as objects are used. In the context of this kind of selfishness, a woman, for example, can become a mere object for a man, and children can be reduced to mere hindrances on the part of their parents. The human sexual love that is nurtured within a healthy marriage, meanwhile, fenerates communion between persons, as each comes to consider the good of the other as his or her own good. Marital sex- uality is thus meant to go beyond merely existing with someone else and using them for selfish gain, and instead calls a person to existing for someone else through total self-gift. As husband and wife seek to live out these truths of their human sexuality, they impart valuable and important lessons to their children about generosity, unselfish living, and chastity, where that chastity is seen as the spiritual energy capable of defending love from the perils of selfish- ness and aggressiveness. Parents are in the unique position of being able to model for their children a healthy example of sexual integration, generosity, and self-mastery within marriage. Under these circumstanc- es, parents also convey to their children the beautiful message that human sexual- ity reaches far beyond the biological, and touches on the most intimate core of the human person, particularly as experienced in his or her capacity for personal and radi- cal self-gift to another in marriage, faithful even unto death. Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, Ph.D. earned his doctorate in neuroscience from Yale and did post-doctoral work at Harvard. He is a priest of the diocese of Fall River, MA, and serves as the Director of Edu- cation at The National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia. See www.ncbcen- ter.org Parents and "Sex Ed" MAKING SENSE OUT OF BIOETHICS Father Tad Pacholczyk, Ph. D INSTILLING A HEALTHY ATTITUDE ABOUT SEXUALITY IN YOUNG PEOPLE INVOLVES A VARIETY OF CONSIDERATIONS, INCLUDING CONVEYING A PROPER SENSE OF CONSTRAINTS AND BOUNDARIES. BALTIMORE, Md. On. Nov. 17, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) approved a formal statement, Create in Me a Clean Heart: A Pastoral Response to Por- nography. The statement was approved during the bish- ops annual fall general assembly in Baltimore. It was approved by the full body of bishops, with 230 votes in favor, four against and one abstaining. My brother bishops approval of this statement shows our collective concern for the widespread problem of pornography in our culture today, said Bishop Richard J. Malone of Buffalo, New York, chairman of the USCCBs committee on laity, marriage, family and youth (LMFLY), which led the development of the document. As the state- ment says, virtually everyone is affected by pornography in some way. So many people including within the Church are in need of Christs abun- dant mercy and healing. My hope is that the state- ment can serve as a foundation and catalyst for increased pasto- ral attention to this challenge at the national and local level. The statement gives a basic catechesis on human sexual- ity and chastity, an explanation of why the production and use of pornography is a sin. It also provides an overview of its effects in our society, with a closer look at its effects on men, women, children, young people, marriages and fami- lies. In addition, it includes a word of hope and encourage- ment to individuals who have been harmed by pornography or in its production. The statement is intended for Catholic leaders and par- ents. However, its also designed to be helpful to everyone who struggles with pornography use, along with those who want to work together for a culture of purity and respect for every human being. The complete text of the statement is available online at www.usccb.org/cleanheart, along with other USCCB re- sources on pornography. Bishops approve formal statement on pornography Find full issues of The U.P. Catholic online at www.upcatholic.org

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