Since I am teaching CCD at the parish this year I had to attend our diocese's "safe environment" program. The one we are using is called "VIRTUS - Protecting God's Children". The three-hour session I attended yesterday was largely a waste of time in my opinion. There are two videos shown where they interview a few victims of sexual abuse and two convicted pedophiles. My general impressions of the program were these:
1. They assume we are dummies who never talk to our kids, have no idea who they play with, whose house they are at, etc. etc. (maybe this is true in many quarters?????);
2. There was no mention of God in the program except in the title (in fact they state that we need to tell our kids that the reason we cover our body is for "health and safety" reasons. There is no mention of chastity, being made in the image and likeness of God, being a temple of the Holy Spirit, etc. etc.) - only temporal things seem to matter;
3. They imply that the scandal in Catholic Church for these past two years has everything to do with pedophilia - which we know is false;
4. They present common sense things as revolutionary ideas.... (for example: a. talk to your kids and find out who they are playing with and whose house they slept over last night.... or b. if you see someone, even if its a close friend, fondling your child, you should stop it....) Okay, an exaggeration-but not much;
5. They assume it is inevitable that a victim will have life-long, devastating scars (I dispute this one the grounds that: a. it is well-known that children tend to be more resilient and recover more quickly from terrible things than adults do; b. that a child who has a proper understanding of themselves and God and sin and forgiveness will cope better; and c. if the parent doesn't sweep it under the rug for fear of embarrassment as was done by the parents and the bishops in all these cases, but deals with the abuse and the child properly, the child will cope better also.) ; and
6. Suspicion is the order of the day. Trust no one.....especially anyone who wants to teach kids.....
Number 5 is important, because if VIRTUS is the model they are going to teach - they are correct. A victim will never recover. However, supposedly the Catholic Church proposes something better.........
Of course the origin of the VIRTUS program is dubious at best - I have not done the research myself, but I have a folder of emails from friends that claim to link VIRTUS to various evil organizations.
There is also a 3-session VIRTUS for children (starting in kintergarten). To our diocese's very partial credit, the last of the 3 sessions was scrapped as being too explicit, and the first two sessions are parental opt-in or opt-out sessions, depending on your parish.
I won't teach VIRTUS to my students - it is against my religion.
The 'facilitator' at the course my wife attended admitted that VIRTUS was being implemented because otherwise the insurance company threatened to cease coverage.
That's a great headline: "Insurance companies meet to discuss Catholic Church doctrine - US bishops provide rubber stamp!"
I have read the curriculum for the students - again God is largely absent! Temporal health and safety (and insurance premiums) are the concern of curriculum. Even if this curriculum were not taught in a public, co-ed setting, it is still problematic.
It is a longstanding Church teaching that parents have the priority and obligation of teaching - especially in sexual matters. The Church has always recommended that these teachings not occur in public settings, but in the home. If bishops and pastors don't believe the parents under their spiritual guidance have the ability to teach the Truth and the Faith - especially with respect to these matters in their homes, then the bishops and the pastors should assist the parents - NOT by taking on the parents responsibility, but by teaching the parents how to carry out their God-given responsibility....
Oh yes. I forget. This isn't about "Protecting God's Children" - it is about money, and placating an unplacatable media.....
I am sorry I am so cynical this morning, but this whole thing has me been upsetting to me.