Education to Freedom.
The Pope clearly expresses the value and the urgency of the educational function of the family, in a world in continuous evolution: “Families cannot help but be places of support, guidance and direction, however much they may have to rethink their methods and discover new resources…”(AL 260).
The educational action is not the obsessive attempt to control the children, but rather “…what is most important is the ability lovingly to help them grow in freedom, maturity, overall discipline and real autonomy…education includes encouraging the responsible use of freedom to face issues with good sense and intelligence.
It involves forming persons who readily understand that their own lives, and the life of the community, are in their hands and that freedom is itself a great gift…” (AL 261-262).
On the other hand the thinking of Francis is very clear, from the very first pages of Amoris Laetitia: “We have been called to form consciences not to replace them” (AL 37).
The most efficient method, the Pope says, is to suggest a path of little steps in line with the real possibility of the child: “In proposing values we have to proceed slowly, taking into consideration the child’s age and abilities without presuming to apply rigid and inflexible methods” (AL 273).
Yes to sexual education.
As already indicated by the document of Vatican Council II it is necessary and urgent to accept this challenge, in a time when people tend to trivialize and impoverish sexuality: “It can only be seen within the broader framework of an education for love, for mutual self-giving…at the same time, we must accept that the need of a new and more adequate language presents itself first of all at the moment of introducing children and teenagers to the subject of sexuality…a sexual education that fosters a healthy sense of modesty has immense value…it is a natural means whereby we defend our personal privacy and prevent ourselves from being turned into objects to be used” (AL 280-282).
(Comment by Jesus Moran at the meeting of the New Family Secretariats held in Castel Gandolfo from 3 to 6 November 2016)