Just Do It

Catholic Sex Education

For a meeting about sex education, the turnout was curiously small. Then again, none of the parents of the kids in my parish’s religious education program had been told why we’d been summoned in the first place. The woman who runs the Sunday-morning programs seemed so nervous, and she was choosing her words with extra care. I was not taking notes, but the gist of her opening statement was that, well, she hoped we wouldn’t take it too hard, but, well—and this wouldn’t be happening right away or anything, not at all, quite the contrary in fact—but eventually, well, the thing was, our kids were eventually going to be learning what the Catholic Church teaches about sex!

She seemed to be waiting for a collective gasp, or howls of protest—only there was none. Now, to be fair, I’ve seen this kind and hard-working woman verbally pummeled for such outrages as trying to keep the families of first communicants from inviting their seven hundred closest friends to Mass, so it’s not hard to see why she might approach everything with caution. High-end parents can be scary these days, as I’m reminded every time I attend a parent meeting at school. (“Will I be notified the very instant my little twelve-year-old Descartes secures his rightful spot in the top reading group? What do you mean, you’ll try?”) Still, it was an absurdly funny but also rather telling moment as the religious-education director struggled to calm our nonexistent...

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About the Author

Melinda Henneberger, a Commonweal columnist, is the former editor-in-chief of PoliticsDaily.com.