Since 2000, Ottawa Archbishop Marcel Gervais has expressed his opinion on a variety of faith topics. These texts were initially published in the "Ask the Religion Experts" column which appears every Saturday in The Ottawa Citizen. As of June 2005, Msgr. Patrick Powers, Vicar General, will be taking on the responsibility of the weekly articles.

How does your faith group handle sex education?

A programme called Fully Alive was developed some twenty years ago by the Ontario Bishops to help Catholic parents teach their children to be fully human. Its focus is on the ordinary experiences of daily life-family relationships, friendships, marriage, birth, death, joys, and disappointments. It is designed to provide children and their families an opportunity to reflect on the wisdom drawn from Christian human experience. Fully Alive encourages children to reflect on the fact that they are loved, to open themselves to others, and to value their lives as unique manifestations of the Creators love.

Five themes are presented through a series of topics appropriate to the childrens stage of development. Together, the five themes offer an exploration of what it means to be human within the context of our Catholic faith: on what it means to be human; on how we relate to each other; on our sexuality; on growing in commitment to God and to others and finally how we serve God and others in society.

Hence, the entire question of human sexuality is studied in a holistic and family context. The programme helps young people to come to a sound understanding of the vocation of marriage and the sexual relationship that is specific to husbands and wives. However, this sexuality is lived within the context of the manner in which we live the five overall themes. Fully Alive underscores that there is so much to be discovered about the world, so many questions to ask, and so much to be learned. It allows parents to know what their children are learning in the classroom and, more importantly, to participate in the program as the most significant educators in their childrens lives. It supports and complements the efforts they make each day to guide their children to full Christian maturity.