Croatia: Sex Education Causes Calamitous Rift In Society

Education Minister Zeljko Jovanovic and Archbishop Josip Bozanic              Photo: Cropix

Education Minister Zeljko Jovanovic and Cardinal Josip Bozanic
Photo: Cropix

Croatian government and the Croatian Catholic Church have been at serious loggerheads, to say the least, since the government announced late last year its new school health education plan, which includes sex education in all its “modern-day” imagery, facets, spectrum. Suffice to say, the government would not budge from its plan to implement the program to school children that has caused enormous discomforts, distress, fury, and downright (futile) rejection from much of the community. To put fuel on this sorry “state of the nation”, a TV program (Picture of Croatia/Slika Hrvatske), produced by TV journalist Karolina Vidovic-Kristo, went under “the knife” as soon as it broadcasted the episode that examined possible correlation between the results of studies with pedophiles and school sex education (issues raised in association with the Kinsey Syndrome documentary). One would have thought that the media has the duty to offer the public information on all facets in and around a socially important issue such as sex education in schools – but, the powers that be think differently; they’ve made up their minds and nothing will stop them – or will it?

A two-way street of barrages of insults, cynicism, sarcasm … between the Church and the Government opened, just before Christmas Day, with saddening tides for celebrations of the birth of Jesus Christ. I say saddening because the 2011 census showed that there are 86.28% (of total population) Catholics in Croatia. I would have expected the Government to announce its seemingly controversial school sex education curriculum at some other time in the year, not so close to one of the most celebrated religious days in the year for so many of its constituents. As in any country, sex education in schools is a sensitive issue and usually carefully vetted, discussed or tested through parents’ associations etc. Whether a parent has the right to decide how sex education will be delivered in the school their child attends is a moot question that touches upon morality and social responsibility. The governments, on the other hand, have the responsibility to deliver education and, hence, dialogues are essential between all concerning parties, including the Church.

Productive dialogue has not been achieved between the Church and the Government on this issue of sex education. It’s almost like the two are asserting their points of view forcefully and the umpire (the parent/the people) is confused, but at times using distasteful means to bring their own issues to the front. E.g., hundreds of people turned up January 12 in front of Zagreb’s Cathedral to witness, to protest or to participate in the so-called “kiss your neighbour” rally: LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) rights groups kissing in public, thus demonstrating their disapproval of the Church’s views on homosexuality and its place in school sex education, and the “war of words” that had been raging between the Church and the Government. The LGBT groups have announced a new rally under the banner: “Rally for secularism”! Well – one doesn’t need to look far to see where from those winds might be blowing (given that ex-Communists are in Government)! But, the critical thing here is that they don’t seem to be behaving any differently (more tolerantly) from that which they’re saying needs change, and are rallying against! The truth is that schools in Croatia are secularised, they’re public,  the government is secular/separated from church, etc. so what does “Rally for secularism” mean? To deny people’s personal right to choose to believe, to belong to a church…?

The schools reopen after the winter recess on Monday 14 January and if one is to go by several media reports many parents are boycotting (not sending their children to school) sex education lessons and the Minister for Education, Zeljko Jovanovic, has threatened that their children will be marked as “AWOL” (absent without leave)! You accumulate several of those in a year and you’re in big trouble with your school grades!

In light of all of the above, and more, on the issue of belief, good and bad, I thought it most soothing to translate dr. Slobodan Lang’s article and post it here. Ina Vukic, Prof. (Zgb); B.A., M.A.Ps. (Syd)

Christmas Education in Croatia

By dr. Slobodan Lang

(Translated into English by: Ina Vukic)

Christmas day is a day of joy and hope, goodness is in achieving Jesus, Croatia is entering into the European Union, faith, family, human rights, education, health … During recent days Croatia was filled with debates on all subjects. We would, therefore, rightfully expect that we had welcomed the birth of baby Jesus with joy and that we had shown him that we welcome him among the people and in the country that has accepted the responsibility of goodness.

It wasn’t like that, regardless of whom we’re talking about, about priests, politicians, media, organisations. Most had placed an accent on him/herself and increased the polarisation and division among people. It’s not important at all what badness was uttered or written by whom about somebody else. What’s important is that almost nobody talked about the good.

This Christmas we all saw and were warned that Croatia lives more in the civilisation of bad than good. Most Croatian people are good people, and they know how to be good in their families, in organisations, in church, in Unions … but we do not know how to be good people in togetherness for creating Croatia.

The most valuable messages were sent, on 9th January, by President Ivo Josipovic and Archbishop Zelimir Puljic: « that, in relation to health education, good will, patience, responsibility and a sincere readiness for talks – the foundation for communication in areas of political and civil life».

Incongruous debates about health education for school children suggest that education about the good is needed for all adults in Croatia.

Croatia will either create a society of good or it will cease to exist. This goes for the whole of the Western civilisation, Europe, and perhaps (I’m relatively uninformed) for the whole world.

Pope John Paul II called upon us to create the theology of work, we want to be more, than to have more. He especially warned the Communist societies not to fall for false and dangerous dreams of the society based on consumerism, which devastates the future.

Is Christmas in today’s West and Croatia a celebration of Jesus’ birth or a celebration of a consumer society?

My family, Catholic and Jewish, filled with joy, has celebrated the Orthodox Christmas. On that day a new member of our family was born. Due to the risky pregnancy his mother spent four moths in bed. The hospital doctors and nurses provided help and cared for her all that time, her priest visited her regularly and prayed with her and an another mother in the hospital room, grandmother came regularly and helped, the whole family was enmeshed in good, even I myself was useful for some things (I brought Rosary Beads from Medjugorje). The mother is the first employer in our lives and she carries the responsibility of the love needed for us to be born and to start our lives in the community. Breastfeeding is the first work. From the very beginning children should, with their work in their family, do good for everyone, and in school the pupils need to do the cleaning by themselves, how many days has there been without aggression – needs to be written on the blackboard – have lessons started on time … Work begins much before employment, and we work for love, friendship, help, much before and much more than we do for money. Does this testimony belong to health and sex education?

Let’s conduct a research, do belief, attending Mass and prayer encourage blood donations, helping the neighbour, humanitarian work, help with employment, care for the elderly, comforting the depressed, material support, empathy. Would we not, in this way, get a better picture about goodness than by the level of education, by nationality, age or gender.

People are social and moral beings. When we face danger we also react as members of groups, first – immediately, instinctively and emotionally, and then – with deliberation and rationality. Belief helps us to realise our deliberation and prudence as quickly as possible. Fast reaction can sometimes be useful, but it leads to conflicts and disintegration. A slower reaction leads to deliberation, connects the community, strengthens Altruism and conquers negative emotions. God does not exist in order to give us our safety or to support us in our conflict with anyone. As believers, we are obligated to send messages and do deeds of goodness. Religion must not serve for the justification of conflicts and hatred – when that happens it is no longer the belief in God.

People who are not believers must aspire to lead a life of goodness, and to be able to publicly express and show that they morally accept the common good. Today’s world needs a new Universal declaration on human duty. Regardless of whether we are believers or not, we all should accept the duty of generosity, magnanimity, goodness and positive ethics, and reject the inherited biases, rapaciousness, selfishness, aggression, quarrels …

The short public debate on sex education has demonstrated that today’s Croatia has no vision as to what it wants us to build in togetherness.

A certain Croatian “meeting at the top” was held in the Cathedral. Cardinal Bozanic has in his sermon expressed dissatisfaction with the new program for schools. The President and the Prime Minister of Croatia were listening to him. If they were believers they would know to go to the Sacristy after the Mass and organise a meeting to discuss the matter. As politicians they could have thought about these matters and formally invited church representatives to a meeting. Regretfully, human weakness and separation, instead of clarification and linking with one another, prevailed. After that, the lack in their communication turned into the plunging out of members of the now conflicting sides, including agitating followers into conflicts between one another.  The climax was “the war of kisses” in front of the Cathedral on 12th January. In my youth we had a slogan “Make love, not war”. Reagan reacted: “It seems that this generation doesn’t know how to do either.” In the defence of and in creating Croatia we showed that we know how to do both.

The Prime Minister, Mr Milanovic, requested a ceasefire. The debate on health education in schools clearly demonstrated to him that the whole of Croatia urgently and essentially needs a joint vision of goodness.

God’s announcement of Jesus Christ as one of the people represents the ultimate trust of God in people and the people’s responsibility towards God. There is no Universal man after the fort of Babylon; all live their short lives within defined nations and time. Jesus Christ was born 2000 years ago, among Jews in Israel, which already had its faith and Shrine, but it was under the Roman authorities. Jews were preparing an aggressive revolt against Rome. Jesus was aware that this would not give Jews their freedom but, rather, a military defeat, unjust judgment and peril. That’s why, with actions from man to man, he showed that it is possible to do good, he gathered them and educated them, and finally at the mount he called upon people to jointly build the world of good, through non-aggression and humanity. As not enough Jews accepted him, but continued to prepare for an aggressive revolt against Rome, he decided to warn them of what is to come for them, using himself as example. He exposed himself to an unjust judgment, torture and death. Soon, he appeared again before his followers and awakened in them the power of faith. The remaining Jews raised, in 66 C.E., the revolt that brought the greatest catastrophe in Jewish life, before the Holocaust. Today, the Jews consider this revolt as a terrible mistake. Regretfully, since Jews do not believe in Christ, they have not to this day understood that he called for abandonment of the world of wars and aggression, and showed that every man can do good, and that a nation can only realise its freedom in the company of good. On the other hand, Christians had not for a long time given meaning to the fact that Jesus dedicated his human life to helping and teaching every man and the whole community. In this way they separated Calvary from time before and after.

John Paul II apologised for the historical mistakes of the church and Benedict XVI dedicated special attention to ties with the Rabbi. I personally believe that Jesus’ lesson is good, an invitation, equally to believers and non-believers, to join with each other and build a civilization of good, and the Croatia of good. Jesus himself lived by doing good and not by persecuting evil, which he either rejected (the Devil) or banished from the place of responsibility.

Turning back to health, human rights, school, church and politics. People live significantly longer in the European Union (which we are joining) than in Croatia. The most terrible thing is that people here could live longer if a national health program was developed. This is possible only through a national goal. Croatia is aging and the population is getting smaller. It’s possible to change both, but only through a national goal.

The whole of Europe has lived very long in following the civilization of evil, dividing people into valuable and invaluable people, till the final Nazi introduction of even non-people. After WWII Nazis were defeated and there were proclamation of human rights, humanitarian principles, righteous among nations. A further 20 years was needed for the West to free itself from racism and colonialism, and then a further 20 years for the communist totalitarianism to fall.

Advocating for the equality of all is, in today’s world, a precondition and the duty of all people who want to build Europe and who believe in Jesus Christ. The majority, the minorities and the individuals are equal. That has been implemented with the Jews, racially, gender-wise, religiously, and nationally. Equality for the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) group is being implemented in 21st Century Europe and U.S.A. Among them, throughout history, were the greats like Alexander the Great, Aristotle, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo. How large is their contribution to all of us, in philosophy, in the arts, in politics … LGBT will realise their rights in Europe and in Croatia.

Let’s conclude with Jesus. He began to exist – he was conceived and killed – crucified, on the same day, 25th March. Christmas, 25th December, the day of his birth was chosen because it is nine months after conception. Both, faith and humanity obligate to full truth and do not permit the behaviour and the approach based on divisions between knowledge and ignorance. Let’s embrace responsibility, work and good – we need Easter.

____________________________

Dr Slobodan Lang   Photo: Pixsell

Dr Slobodan Lang Photo: Pixsell

About dr. Slobodan Lang. Born to Jewish family 8 October 1945 in Zagreb, Croatia. Physician, author, writer, politician and former personal adviser to the first Croatian President dr. Franjo Tudjman. His paternal grandfather Ignjat was the president of the Jewish community in Vinkovci (Croatia) and his grandmother Terezija was a housewife. In 1941 Catholic priest Hijacint Bošković, distinguished Dubrovnik and Croatian Dominican, was engaged in an extraordinary attempt to rescue the Langs from Nazi persecution. Bošković traveled from Dubrovnik to Vinkovci with a special permit that allowed him to relocate the Langs to Dubrovnik. Langs grandfather refused to leave, saying that he “was the president of Jews in peace and he will stay one in the war”. Both of his grandparents were killed in the concentration camp during the Holocaust. He graduated at the University of Zagreb School of Medicine and is a specialist in social medicine. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slobodan_Lang)

Comments

  1. Richard Moran says:

    The crux of the matter in here is that the Church is the church and the Government are mainly self-declared atheists, or ex-Communists or Marxists. So when has the world seen that a Marxist can really talk to the church and end up with a profitable dialogue to benefit all. The two just don’t travel in the same space and that is such a shame for Croatia. It does not mean that one needs to take the advice or suggestion of the other but this what is happening now in Croatia is simply awful.

  2. That minister Jovanovic seems quite crude and inflexible and so unreal. Can’t he see that the church is advocating for the people that belong to it. Isn’t there such a thing as advocacy in Croatia? Or does advocacy there mean: you say your bit – goodbye! Deaf ears throughout the government? No discussion. It’s their way, or the highway, it seems!

  3. Aboutcroatia says:

    While I’m all for LGBT rights I think that the rally of “kiss your neighbour” in front of the cathedral is just bad taste and spite. Hello – we all know how to kiss. Some people think that others must accept their ways and views while they, themselves, deny those others the rights to have views and the right to reject a way of life that they do not believe in. I bet that if the non-LGBT’s organised a rally of kissing in front of the cathedral there’d be millions there, not hundreds.

  4. Young people are going to learn about sex and our question has to be where do we want them to learn? From the media? From their friends? Or do we want them to learn from an educated, responsible adult? Now, if it’s the latter who should that be as far as the full knowledge is concerned. The parent or the school, or jointly? Both have a role but the school cannot survive without the parent.

  5. In the debate over sex education, one thing is undisputed: The average kid today is immersed in sexual imagery. A generation that has grown up on the sordid details of all sorts on TV, movies, magazines, internet … is familiar with the facts of life.

    But young people face a barrage of confusing messages.
    With or without sex education at schools? No school education will provide the intimate, the needed guidance in personal sexual matters… advice … support … there simply must be synergy between parents and schools, otherwise the kids are in big trouble outside school, in real life.

  6. Miso Sorbel says:

    Often, sexual education can go against an individual’s moral or religious beliefs. So what’s the government’s problem? Can’t they see this and find a way for a happy ending that would include sensitive educational program. Compromises always need to be made I think.
    And another thing,teachers are not always trained how to properly teach sexual education courses and may transgress their own beliefs or morals into the subject matter rather than stick with the facts.

  7. This is a classic example of communist hardheadedness when it comes to church. Yes, in secular school system such as in Croatia, the church can’t really meddle in school curriculum but it has a right of opinion and it has a moral duty to look out for and support the views of its members. And if Croatia has so many Catholics there is no doubt in my mind that many of them want the church to speak on their behalf, on behalf of what they believe.

  8. Michael Silovic says:

    Too often I see this debate and the varying opinions by goverment and church. In a democracy one should always have a separation of church and state.Gay rights is a human rights issue.If anything we are taught by the church that we are all gods children and we are to love our children unconditionally as we love god. It is better to be in love then it is to hate. we have way too much hate in this world and it is counter productive. Who someone loves does not impact any one person other then those who they love.Suppression of one persons freedom to choose any aspect of their lives creates more hostilities towards others. After all i am sure many gay people fought for the freedoms of our country and who are we to go against them? They love our country just as much as we do!The school’s role I believe should not teach about sexual intercourse in itself but rather focus on pro – creation, diseases associated with sex and the results of having unprotected sex.The schools should not even be discussing this issue until it is age appropriate. If the school system wants to teach on this subject it should have a separate class that allows for the parent to decide if they would want their child to participate in such a class. As a Catholic I understand that we should teach abstinence to our children according to our religious beliefs but the reality of it is that’s not the way real life works for many. As a Catholic I grew up with conflicting thoughts on many issues that I have been brought up to believe. Whether it was against homosexuality, abortions or other religious views.In the end I learned that we are all God’s children and he will forgive all of those who seek his forgiveness in life. For that reason I accept everyone’s right and religion in life and keep my religious belief to my own confinements without conflict.

  9. Rosemary Dosen says:

    True, we are all God’s children and God will forgive all who seek forgiveness, but this isn’t a good argument for acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle or any other kind of abberant behavior.. It’s like saying, “do what you want, good or bad, and as long as you ask forgiveness in the end, then that squares it with God”. Oddly enough, I’m not too sure that the LGBT community are of the opinion that they are engaging in immoral behaviors for which they would have to ask forgiveness for anyway.

  10. Getting back on topic, of course there is advocacy in Croatia and the church has the might and resources to push it to the limits. I’d say they were the government’s biggest lobby. One fact overrules all in my humble opinion: The government was democratically elected. like them or hate them, they represent all who live in Croatia. The church, Todorić, Čačić and anyone else who has the resources to shout louder than the rest of us can have their say but, in the end, they must put up with whatever the elected government decides. They have decided, as they said they would in their manifesto, to introduce sex education. Let’s get on with it and let the priests mutter their discontent in their pulpits, that’s their prerogative.

    • Yes the government was elected, Pavao, and it should deliver on what it promised, but the pulpits and other groupings in society have almost, if not a greater power – they can vote the government out at next elections. So, any clever government in a democracy would do well to listen to the masses (and masses hear what’s said from the pulpit) and at least appear to give consideration a chance and not charge forward like a bull into a red rag.

  11. Michael Silovic says:

    You do not have to accept it nor do you have to allow your children to study sex education. But you have no right to deny people their right to love who they chose to love.If they have the right to fight and die for your country in war then who are we to deny them the basics of humanity by loving someone.We can not deny people the right of love based on our religion. Some religions do not condemn homosexuality as does Catholicism. Do we now say because we don’t agree with a religion we should condemn all those who follow? I think the best course of action is to let people live their lives as they chose as long as it doesn’t interfere with anyone else and they are productive in society.

    • Exactly, Michael, love for another human being, regardless of form or reciprocal gender, never hurt anyone. The church is behind the times in this and I guess one of the reasons why many have ceased to go to church and opt celebrating God or their religious faith within their hearts.

      • This is very, very true, Ina. However, I must say that while I am for the rights of all people, whether I agree with their beliefs, choices, religious practices or whatever else, or not, I am not quite sure what to make of some of the methods of protest from the LGBT lobby. I just think there are better methods of protesting for your rights; methods which don’t involve mocking the faith of others or methods which would allow for the freedom of speech/choice for these minorities, while stifling the freedom of anyone who may disagree with them. (Or at least partially disagree with their philosophies). The freedom of one group shouldn’t come at the expense of another and everyone must strive to find a way to remain respectful to fellow human beings and to remain civilised, or we’ll just start fighting hate with more hate and where will that get us as a society?

        Human beings, as individuals with varying beliefs and varying life experiences which have lead to our particular beliefs, will never see exactly eye to eye on every issue, but regardless of our religion, sexual orientation, ethnicity, colour of skin or anything else, we need to strive for a society where everyone feels safe & where their needs are listened to. Sure, that may be the idealistic way of looking at it, but we have to start somewhere. Croatia does have the capacity for this – after all, did we not fight for our freedom against the clutches of communism? If freedom is so important to Croatian people, we cannot allow ourselves to basically disregard and mock the freedom and choices of those within our own society and then talk proudly of how we fought for this freedom – it shouldn’t be selective, it should apply to all Croatians. But in order for this to happen, we have to call out those who resort to immature, shaming tactics in any manner. That sort of behaviour will only cause more conflict and division.

        In short, both groups need to rethink their ways stop the pettiness if anything beneficial is to be achieved.

        As for the issue of sex education in schools – to put it briefly, I think a comprehensive education in matters of sex and contraception is absolutely necessary. No “ifs”, no “buts”, no “my religion this, my religion that”. The more sex is treated as a taboo, off-bounds topic, the more curious young people will be and the more tempted to engage in sexual acts. (Speaking from personal experiences and some reading, here and there). But if they should act on their curiosity (natural human desire obviously) without adequate knowledge of how to make mature, responsible decisions when it comes to sex, well, I’m sure you can see how disastrous this could be. Parents should work together with schools to make sure their children are adequately prepared to make mature, responsible choices. If schools dwell on the physical aspect of sex ed, parents need to be open-minded enough to discuss the emotional and moral aspects in order to help their children form their own, educated opinions. (We cannot just expect people not to do something only because the religion they have been raised in says not to do it, we’re human beings, not controlled robots!)

        I have more to say on this topic, but I’ll post that a bit later, when I have gathered my thoughts properly.

      • Re sex education Kat, whether in essence the parents/church object to sex education as a whole is not entirely clear, it would seem that certain parts of the curriculum are objectionable to them. Children need to know, that is for sure, sex should not be a taboo, and I do not think that sex is a taboo topic for any church (so too for Croatian Catholic church) either because every religion cherishes procreation etc love between man and woman. How much of sexual behaviour in all its forms among human beings, and how detailed, should be taught at schools is a subject very sensitive in all the cultures not just Croatia. Even after decades of some forms of sex education in the “West” it still remains a topic most sensitive and often riddled with parental objections etc. Health aspect – in today’s world of risks of diseases etc – is to my opinion very important etc. Research and prominent opinions throughout the world have shown that while sex education at school is in many aspects a good thing it has also been seen as responsible to a great degree for the age of sexual activity and risk taking in that area to occur much, much earlier than say 20 years ago on relatively large scales. But in any case it is sad that government and church create such an aversive air of intolerance on the issue; that too gives mixed messages to children – they read newspapers, watch TV etc. Ultimately, the government is responsible to listen to the people who elected them, the church on the other hand is there to protect the religion and people have a choice to follow that religion or not. People do not have a choice to follow a government’s decision or not because if they don’t then consequences for them personally can be grave.

      • I’m not sure if I’m replying correctly, I don’t see a reply option for your second comment, so I’ll just reply via the first.

        I am certainly not against people questioning the quality of the content delivered and taught to their children. It is good to question – in fact I’d question the quality of sex education even in “liberal” countries like Australia. The problem is though, will we ever agree on what is detailed enough, what is inclusive enough or not? Everyone seems to have their own opinion, so how do we reach a happy medium, especially when the Croatian government refuses to listen to the concerned voices of its citizens? I know this is just anecdotal evidence, but from my experiences, many young people engage in sexual activity early, when they are not quite aware enough of the risks such behaviour poses. Rather, risks are something they worry about when the real possibility of disease or pregnancy arises, not before actually engaging in sex and to me, that is quite backwards. To be aware of what they’re getting themselves into though, they need to be taught. They need to fully discuss the emotional and moral aspects of sex as well and obviously, the very, very real health risks. But in a society that promotes casual sex as being OK, and refuses to listen to opposing opinions, what chance do impressionable minds stand? It’e easy enough to learn how to have sex, how different people have sex and so on, in all its detail, but is anyone actually teaching younger generations how to think critically and logically about how to question their own stance on important issues? Wouldn’t that be more worthwhile?

        Schools do not do enough to discuss the emotional/moral aspects of sex, they just close the issue by telling you “do it when you’re ready”. What constitutes as ready anyway? In the minds of 15, 16 year olds, they’re ready for anything, but it doesn’t mean they’ll make the right choices. Perhaps it’s time for parents to really step up to the plate? Perhaps schools should be teaching students to leave sex for adulthood and concentrate on studies, but it is not popular opinion to “control” someone’s choices like that. Today that’s called “forcing” your beliefs on others, no matter how logical or wise your stance may be. It’s bad to apparently hold people to a certain set of standards. Maybe the trick really is to encourage more critical thinking in young people, to get them to read up on issues from both sides, to question popular opinion and reject peer pressure and maybe then they will be able to make wiser choices, rather than just going with the flow. We could actually have a generation that doesn’t let corrupt governments and media shape their worldviews, now wouldn’t that be nice?

        I don’t have the exact answer, but one thing is clear, the Croatian government needs to start listening to its people rather than being so utterly intolerant of anything that goes against their agenda. If the church wishes to stand up for the people, it must not give in to the petty mud-slinging match the government is obviously trying to instigate no matter what the government chooses to do. (And this goes for any issue). Curriculums can be changed if enough positive action is taken. Change may be slow, but it is attainable. Leave the intolerant behaviour to the government, they’re champions at it anyway.

  12. Walter Cross says:

    You are just too cool Kat. Completely right when you say that the government needs to listen to the people more. School curriculum is not a cold, isolated matter that you just deliver and go away. It has to do with educating young people into becoming responsible adults. And when it comes to sex education there is morality involved heavily in this. Hence, the parents (or the church on their behalf…) simply must be given a chance to be include and some happy ending for all would surely be possible in this. You can’t please everyone but if you show you are open to discussions etc then if needed all sides will eventually give and take (compromise) for progress.

  13. Sorry Walter, your comment… ” Hence, the parents (or the church on their behalf…)” is something I cannot accept. Nobody voted for “the church” they have no mandate to speak on anyone’s behalf except their own. People may agree or disagree with church teachings but they represent only themselves and we all know their views on contraception which remains the unspoken driving force behind their objections to this programme. By all means, have a say, but don’t represent me, that’s my job.

    • Walter Cross says:

      Pavao it is true, I agree, the church’s view on contraception is very very outdated but the fact remains that it has many many followers and often the churchgoers do actually depend on the church to speak up on their behalf – they agree with what church says. No, nobody elected the church into government but people actually elect/choose to follow the church and that is in a way similar. Croatia is a secular state and church should not rule the schools but a government should have enough prudence to allow dialogue with church because the church is very important to the voters. Croatia’s government seems just too hardheaded in all this and so is the church. So you see, I think that everyone has a right to speak and parents I believe have a right to decide for their underage child what of sexual education it will learn in schools etc. If Croatia had as many private schools, who need to comply with state requirements but who can also adjust details of it etc to suit their views especially when it comes to issues of morality, as the West then this issue would not be as big as it is. The countries that have state and private schools are also secular.

    • The church does represent the views of at least some within society, given the influence it has had in Croatia. I do question, however, just how much of the church’s views align with that of its followers. We know the church is very strict and stubborn in some areas, but can the same be said for the majority of individuals who say they follow the Catholic faith? Perhaps some only identify as Catholic on paper, but don’t practice their faith. Despite that however, faith and the church no doubt hold significance in the lives of Croatians and I don’t doubt there are individuals who are fine with the church taking on a leadership responsibility and representing the views which the government refuses to hear. The church cannot determine what is taught, but the government should have the decency to allow for open dialogue on issues that matter to its people, whether these are represented by church officials or other groups.

      The government officially represents Croatia, but that does not mean that individuals share the same values that those in power do, or that they want the same outcome as the one being pushed by the powers that be. (Yet people will still be forced to comply with the rules and outcomes, as Ina stated a few comments back). In this case, it is important that people have a voice, and again, if their voice is heard through the church, then so be it. Not everyone will agree with that stance, but if that is the case, I’m sure one could find another group (or create one) to have a third or fourth voice heard on this issue. What really matters is that an informed, fair and open dialogue is had between different groups representing different views and values so that some sort of compromise may be achieved. What is wrong is to completely disregard the opinions that may very well be representative of a significant number of individuals…that’s not really democratic, is it?

  14. Imported from Facebook: I must say that there are some exaggerations here, especially when it comes to kids being absent from classes. Since the 4th module of Health education (the much discussed Sexual education) will be taught for only 2 or 3 school-hours a year (!), the kids are not in much trouble if they skip it. However, since sexuality IS discussed at Religious studies (vjeronauk) in schools anyway (mainly in a way that it is a sin), I do think that the kids would benefit from hearing another opinion. They are surrounded by it anyway, be it in form of male sexual potency ads on TV, or female lingerie ads in magazines. No-one’s preventing parents to raise their children the way they see fit, but I do think that we’re supposed to raise kids who are able to think for themselves.
    What bothers me the most is this black-or-white polarization in our society which is also presented in this article. One is NOT automatically a Communist if she is pro sexual education or gay rights, nor is one a religious fanatic or Ustaša if they’re against it.

    • No exaggeration – the Minister has publicly threatened to use AWOL on those that don’t attend lessons and as we all know any such absences from school attract some serious considerations, reprimands etc. You will find in the official curriculum that there are 4, 5 or more (depending on the grade) hours of lessons per year talking about sec education. I do not accept that religion classes teach sex as sin, since procreation (which comes through sex/mainly) is the basis of marriage which the church upholds. If it teaches that sex is a sin then in this it probably delves into promiscuity etc? Or sex before marriage? There is no polarisation intended in this article, only the truth/fact: Communists were and are against the church. Gay rights battles should not be brought into the debate on sex education between the church, the parents and the government – any such attempts tend to backfire. Gay rights activists need to understand that just as they want their views accepted, they themselves need to accept that others have a right to either accept or reject their sexual rights.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] the war and the future looks at a row between the Croatian government and the Catholic Church over sex education in Croatian [...]

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  3. [...] the recently introduced sex education in Croatian schools (about which I have written before) has attracted loud – intermittently laced with profound despair – controversies in [...]

  4. [...] consultation is a tragedy for the relatively young democracy.  It has brought serious rifts between the Church and the state, it has seen the harshest (without reasonable foundation) of disciplining of journalist Karolina [...]

  5. […] to show the Croatian public the truth about the research done by Kinsey and his associates she has suffered greatly, to say the least her popular TV show “Portraits of Croatia” was axed in 2013 after she […]

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