The organiser a group set up to encourage young people to live out the Church’s teachings on chastity has said she will stop distributing leaflets warning young people that sex outside marriage can “destroy their souls” and “make their bodies sick”.
Fiona Mansford, founder of the British branch of an Irish organisation called Pure in Heart, said that, following criticism of her leaflets in the local and national press, she needed to rethink her approach, although she said she was still convinced there was an important job for her group to do in providing sex education in Catholic schools.
“Most Catholic schools are doing a great job in really difficult circumstances, because we’re all aware of the challenges to putting the Church’s message over to young people in the world of today. But they often welcome help from an outside group like ours – as much as anything, there are often issues young people would rather discuss with someone other than their day-to-day teachers,” she said.
Ms Mansford added that while sex education was being provided in schools, what was often missing was a wider context about the importance of love and relationships. However, she admitted that the leaflets referred to in the press, which had been distributed during a talk at Coloma Convent in Croydon, had contained “unfortunate language” and would no longer be used by the group.
Pure in Heart was set up in the United Kingdom five years ago, and Ms Mansford said this was the first time there had ever been criticism – and that the criticism, reported in the Croydon Advertiser and picked up by the Daily Telegraph, had come from an older sibling of a girl at the school and not by a pupil herself. She said Pure in Heart had several bookings over the next few weeks, and would continue to do its work.
Coloma head teacher Maureen Martin said she would have the group back in the school, provided they changed the leaflet, adding: “I wouldn’t have used those words.”
Above: Pure in Heart logo