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Church defends role of religious ethos in sex education


Archbishop Eamon Martin. Picture: David Conachy

Archbishop Eamon Martin. Picture: David Conachy

Archbishop Eamon Martin. Picture: David Conachy

Archbishop Eamon Martin has sent a strong signal that the Catholic Church will oppose any attempt to remove the right of schools to teach sex education through the lens of their religious ethos.

The Primate of All Ireland said the approach should present the "positive, yet challenging Catholic vision for relationships, chastity, marriage and the family".

In one pointed comment, which reflects the Church's opposition to same-sex marriage, Dr Martin referred to a curriculum that covered the "marriage of a man and a woman".

His comments come in the wake of the announcement by Education Minister Richard Bruton of the first major review of relationships and sex education (RSE) in 20 years. There is also an Opposition bill calling for objective sex education.

An end to the current practice of allowing a school's "core values and ethos" to dictate its policy on RSE is being widely demanded.

An Oireachtas Education Committee hearing on RSE called for separation between ethos and State curriculum on sex education.

But speaking to the annual conference of Joint Managerial Body (JMB), representing managers and principals of the country's 400 denominational second-level schools, Dr Martin said "relationships and sexuality education should not be reduced to the imparting of so-called 'objective' information, dissociated from a morals and values framework".

He said RSE in Catholic schools was "situated within a morals and values framework that is derived ultimately from the life and teaching of Christ and transmitted through the teaching of the Church."

He agreed that a review of RSE was "essential" and that "questions and challenges facing young people in living their lives today should not be ignored or skimmed over".

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