Archbishop of Dublin Dermot Farrell has defended the place of Church teaching on sexuality in Catholic schools, despite a backlash by politicians.
Dr Farrell insisted that the new sexuality and relationships resource Flourish affirms the “core of Judeo-Christian religion” and “celebrates life and love”.
Dr Farrell was speaking at the annual conference of the Catholic Primary School Management Association (CPSMA) on Thursday, and defended the programme against attack.
The resource has come under fire in recent weeks for promoting Catholic teaching, with Sinn Féin’s education spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire claiming in the Dáil that children risk being “othered” by the way sex-education is being taught in Catholic schools.
Social Democrats’ TD Róisín Shortall also claimed that “teaching children that relationships can be placed in a hierarchy depending on sexual orientation should be an anathema in any modern republic”.
The Archbishop of Dublin said he welcomes the Catholic resource which is “designed to assist teachers in following the NCCA Curriculum while being respectful of our Catholic ethos”.
“One particular actualisation of a life that is flourishing is sacramental marriage,” Dr Farrell insisted.
“While the concept of sacrament may be difficult to grasp, the reality of sacramental life forms the bedrock of the Catholic approach to life and its mysteries. Mystery, because of its depth and intensity, puts before us the complexity and multi-layeredness of life. This is true for every person. It is a mystery to be embraced, not a problem to be solved.”
It is in this light that “the sacramental marriage between a man and a woman [is] to be seen,” he said, continuing “This does not mean that sacramental marriage in Church is for everyone, but our faith asks that we put before our young people and their families, such an understanding of marriage as part of their formation for life, and in the faith”.
Flourish conveys the Judeo-Christian teaching that “every human being is made in the image and likeness of God and is loved by God as they are,” Dr Farrell said.
“The resource material clearly states that any young person grappling with questions around their own gender identity or sexual orientation is be treated with the utmost care and respect. Flourish addresses the issue of family type and acknowledges that love is at the heart of family life, no matter what type of family it is,” he said.