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Loaded questions in the Kohlberg mould dominate the chapter, leading children away from the Church and into conflict with parents. To cite just one example:

At what stage in your life you experience sexual intercourse will depend on many factors, including your parents influ­ence, your own desires and the availability of a suitable partner. (p. 124)

It goes without saying that the chapter is filled with the usual ho­mosexual inspired ‘safe-sex’ propaganda and contains this defini­tive statement on condoms: “It is the only contraceptive method that can prevent the spreading of venereal disease.” One won­ders whether teenagers who catch VD (or worse) after reading and heeding this erroneous advice will sue the authors, the pub­lishers or the school?

Parents who complained about this Year 9 text were told that, rather than replace the book, teachers would simply skip the chapter on contraception! This “non-judgemental” approach was in keeping with the “everything is grey” philosophy es­poused by Father at the Benalla Bowling Club, where he informed disbelieving parishioners that a relativistic approach to faith, life and catechetical instruction was actually based on Church teachings. “You get hold of the truths the Church has always said,” he claimed, “but you make them your own and you express them the way that makes sense for people of this time and age … I don’t think there’s a black and white answer for anything we ask. If you look at the Scriptures, Jesus had that problem every day … He didn’t always have a black and white answer when he told a story. He got people to go away and think about it.”

Notwithstanding the fact that Christ’s ethical teaching leads us to perceive the reality of objective moral norms, the illogical inference in this theory is that if Jesus was sometimes unwilling to give “black and white answers” (never mind the question) how could His personal representative on earth, John Paul II, or His priests ever be expected to do so? Based on Father’s advice its application at the pas­toral level obviously meant that if contraception made sense to the people of Benalla in the latter twentieth century, then it was sensible!

Father’s stated position on contraception confirmed that he too was a student of this heterodox, relativistic world-view, as recalled in this testimony of a young parishioner from the years immediately prior to Monsignor O’Reilly’s retirement:

I was planning to marry a non-Catholic in 1988. We were attending pre-marriage counselling with Father in mid-1987 at St. Joseph’s presbytery. The discussion in­cluded the matter of contraception and, as near as I can remember word for word, went like this:

I said: “I know it is against the law of the Church to use the Pill.”

Father replied: “Not if your conscience says it is alright because Church law cannot override your conscience.”

“You’re telling me that my mother who has had several children and has never taken the Pill, could have taken it and still have been within the law of the Church?”

“Yes, if her conscience said it was alright.”

“You’re telling me that all of the things I’ve learned over the years and my education and upbringing as a practising Catholic are wrong.”

By this time the discussion was heated and I was wild. Fa­ther softened things over but I was left with the impression that regardless of the teaching or the law of the Church, my conscience could override any of them.