CNA Staff, Sep 14, 2020 / 15:00 pm
Catholics, including some local priests, have said a proposed diocesan catechetical curriculum in Australia promotes views on gender identity and human sexuality at odds with Church teaching. Diocesan officials have defended the curriculum, which they say is a “bold new approach” to religious education.
In a letter on Sept. 9 published in the diocesan CatholicOutlook, Fr. Christopher de Souza, vicar for education in the Diocese of Parramatta, pushed back against what he called “wrong and misleading” media reports about the Draft New Curriculum, and insisted the document “completely adheres to the Catholic faith” and is still in the consultation process.
The Australian Daily Telegraph reported on August 16 that “Catholic school students will be taught about different sexual identities, atheism and social media relationships as part of a radical shake-up of the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta's religious curriculum.”
Ater media reports about the proposed new curriculum, Fr. de Souza wrote that “the curriculum does not teach gender theory or gender studies or associated material,” and that it “does not teach students anything that is contrary to the Catholic faith.”
"Gender identity is a big issue and it is a big issue for adolescents and we're providing them with the church's teaching - our community is supportive of those people, they're included,” Greg Whitby, executive director of Catholic education in the diocese, told The Daily Telegraph.
The principal of a Catholic secondary school in the Sydney suburbs, Xavier College, also told the Telegraph that the new syllabus had been “trialled” on students, saying that it allowed the faculty to “remove the boredom of religion by making it inquiry based,” and that religion was not being taught as “a closed sort of shop” bur rather “we are open to other religions, in our school we have a variety of kids all types of religions - Hindu, Sikh and Catholic.”
A draft curriculum document obtained by CNA advertises a “transformation model of education,” one that requires “going beyond what we know and into the deep,” according to a Feb., 2020 letter by the diocese’s executive director of Catholic education, Gregory B. Whitby.
“We hear the call of Vatican II, we have read ‘the signs of the times’ and responded with this draft curriculum, a bold new approach to religious education,” the letter states.