Why Educating Youth on Morality Matters

Pope and Spanish bishop highlight need to teach young people the truth about justice, peace and love and sexuality.

(photo: Shutterstock)

In a bid to end violence against Christians and other religions, Pope Benedict XVI used a Jan. 13 speech to Italian police to call for educating young people in the true meaning of justice and peace.

“Even the past year, unfortunately, was marked by violence and intolerance,” he said in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace on Jan 13.

“Frequently, in different parts of the world, the object of reprisals and attacks were Christians, who paid with their lives for their adherence to Christ and to the Church.”

The Pope made his comments to a gathering of those Italian state police who are charged with patrolling and protecting St. Peter’s Square and the Vatican.

The Pope said that while young people often hear the words “justice” and “peace” being mentioned, not enough is done to explain what the terms really mean.

“Justice,” he explained, “is not a mere human convention.” If it is viewed as such, he added, it can end up being dominated and subverted by the “criteria of utility, profit and material possession.” Pope Benedict said that when justice is corrupted in this way, the value and dignity of people can be “trampled underfoot.”

In reality, justice is a virtue that guides the human will, “prompting us to give others what is due to them by reason of their existence and their actions,” he said.

Similarly, “peace” is not merely defined as the “absence of war or the result of man’s actions to avoid conflict.”

Instead, it is primarily “a gift of God which must be implored with faith and which has the way to its fulfillment in Jesus.” Therefore, “true peace” must be “constructed day after day with compassion, solidarity, fraternity and collaboration on everyone’s part,” the Pope said.

The Pope’s comments reflected his message earlier this month when he dedicated the Church’s 45th World Day of Peace on New Year’s Day to the education of the young in justice and peace.

He concluded his remarks today by holding up the police officers present as “true promoters of justice and sincere builders of peace” and commending all present to Mary “the Mother of God, Queen of Peace.”

“To her we entrust this year of 2012, that everyone may live in mutual respect and strive after the common good, in the hope that no act of violence will be committed in the name of God, supreme guarantor of justice and peace.”

In related news, a Spanish bishop says that although teens are constantly pushed by society to engage in sex outside of marriage, they are in fact happier being chaste and living according to their dignity.

“Chastity is the virtue that educates one’s sexuality, making it more human,” Bishop Demetrio Fernandez of Cordoba, Spain, said in a Jan. 12 letter to parishioners.

“When sexuality is properly channeled, a person lives in harmony with himself and with others,” he said. But when sexuality is disordered, it’s “like a grenade that can explode at any time and injure the person holding it.”

Bishop Fernandez opened his statement lamenting how sex outside of marriage is “continuously incited in the media, in movies, on TV and even in some high schools as part of the curriculum.”

In response to this, he underscored the need in modern culture for human sexuality to be “viewed with pure eyes.” When this happens, he said, sexuality can become the “language and expression of true love” that “does not seek its own interests and satisfaction, but rather is gift and self-donation.”

“A love that seeks the happiness of the other and is open to sacrifice and renunciation,”  he added. “A love that finds its place and its channel in a stable marriage blessed by God.”

Bishop Fernandez clarified that everyone is called to love sacrificially through the virtue of chastity, not just the unmarried.

This “applies to every state in life,” he said, “for the single person, for whom there is no place for the exercise of sexuality; for the married person, who must learn to manage his or her impulses in accord with authentic love; for the consecrated person, who lives his or her sexuality transformed into a more pure and sacrificial love.”

The Cordoba bishop emphasized that it is possible to remain a virgin until marriage and to stay faithful to a spouse within marriage, even in today’s environment.

“It is possible to be totally consecrated to the Lord in body and in soul, as an offering to the Lord that benefits others,” he said. “It is possible to be faithful to one’s husband or one’s wife.”

This is because “Christianity is the religion of the redemption of our flesh,” he explained. “Our love of God, of Jesus Christ, passes through our bodies.”

Through grace, “God is capable of ordering our human sexuality and making it progressively capable of expressing the most authentic love, the only love that makes every human person happy.” the bishop said.