• Switzerland's news in English

Sex ed harms 'natural sense of shame': bishop

Meritxell Mir · 12 Dec 2011, 10:37

Published: 12 Dec 2011 11:44 GMT+01:00
Updated: 12 Dec 2011 10:37 GMT+01:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Two Swiss Catholic bishops have traded verbal blows after the bishop of Chur, Vitus Huonder, argued that parents should have the right to exempt their children from sex education classes at school.

In a letter written to mark Human Rights Day on December 10th, the bishop from the Alpine town launched a stinging attack on the country's educational establishment.

According to Huonder, “state institutions promote a kind of education that destroys the natural protection of a person's sexuality, namely the sense of shame.”

"When children and adolescents have their sense of shame brought into contact with these teachings, it endangers the healthy development of their personalities and risks exposing them to all manner of abuses." 

But this view was rejected by the bishop of Basel, Felix Gmür, who said it was imperative for public schools to keep sex education on the curriculum.

"These courses can support and supplement the educational mission of parents," he said in an interview published on Sunday by weekly newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

For Gmür, who belongs to the liberal wing of the Swiss Catholic Church, “teaching about human sexuality is the job of the school."

“It shouldn’t be relinquished,” he added.

The bishop of Basel said he had no problem with sex education as long as conflicting views were given a fair hearing in the classroom.

"When schools outline the various aspects [concerning sexuality], I see no reason to remove children [from class]," Gmür said.

His words ran counter to Huonder’s vision. While noting that the Catholic Church respected the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Chur prelate also stressed that “human rights are always preceded by divine law.”

"The modern state relieves parents of many of the tasks of schooling and education," Huonder wrote.

"But the ultimate decision when it comes to education is always theirs."

The position of the bishop of Chur has been criticized by representatives of other churches.

The president of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, Thomas Wipf, told SonntagsZeitung that: “for the individual, religious values ​​can come first; but for society as a whole, human rights, which are inviolable and universal, take precedence.”

Meritxell Mir (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

2011-12-26 19:35:36 by vanhelsingjunior
There is too much noise about this whole sex education policy. Parents should be concerned about the quality of education that their children are receiving at school in all the other subjects that they learn. As for sex education, isn't that supposed to be the parents' responsibility to teach their children about the birds and the bees? Why don't the schools teach children to develop their brains instead of their sex techniques?
2011-12-24 04:18:33 by Papermoon
Yeah I don't understand his reasoning about that, it makes no sense.
2011-12-15 12:57:42 by sunnchilde
It's exactly this kind of crap that makes me ashamed to say that I'm catholic.
2011-12-14 17:55:16 by PLT
>>According to Huonder, “state institutions promote a kind of education that destroys . . . the sense of shame.”>> Why is natural sex shameful? Sex is beautiful as long as it is guided.
Today's headlines
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Could Montreux host the 2026 Games? Photo: Ivo Scholz/Swiss Tourism

Montreux is to put itself forward as the host city for the 2026 winter Olympics as part of a potential bid by the cantons of Valais and Vaud.

Geneva car share scheme could help reduce city traffic
Catch a Car is aimed at short hops within a city. Photo: Catch a Car

Catch a Car, already in Basel, launches in Geneva next month.

Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Female employees in Switzerland earn 19.3 percent less than their male colleagues. File photo: Randy Kashka

Switzerland's gender pay gap means from today, Friday October 21st, women in the country will effectively be working for free for the rest of 2016.

Swiss luxury watches stolen in Paris raid
Police outside the Girard-Perregaux watch store on Thursday. Photo: Bertrand Guay/AFP

The 10 Girard-Perregaux watches are worth half a million euros in total.

Brother-in-law arrested over murder of Swiss teacher
The victim worked in a school in Stabio, near the town of Mendrisio. Photo: Oliver Graf

The primary school teacher was found dead in Ticino earlier this week.

Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Designed to house 20,000 people, the bunker was built in and over two motorway tunnels. Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben

The Local takes a tour of the Sonnenberg bunker in Lucerne, opened 40 years ago at the height of the Cold War.

Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
File photo: Renato Bagattini/Swiss Tourism

Skiers in Switzerland pay the highest prices for their ski passes of anywhere in Europe, according to research.

Eco group fights Bern over wind farm plans
There are currently more than 30 wind farms in Switzerland. Photo: Alpiq

Wind turbines are “gigantic and destructive” machines, says Paysage Libre Suisse.

Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Antoni Da Campo will now carry out his military service. Photo: Antoni Da Campo

A Swiss man who was told he would not be accepted for military service because of his strict veganism has finally succeeded in making the army change its mind.

Geneva terror suspects to receive compensation
File photo: Emran Kassim

The Swiss public prosecutor has dropped the case against them.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
Photo: file
Some deodorants could cause breast cancer: Swiss study
Photo: Royal Savoy
In pictures: Inside the latest Swiss luxury hotel
Photo: AFP
Geneva airport bomb hoaxer faces 90,000-franc bill
Photo: Schaffhausen police
Mother leaves toddler son alone in car to go clubbing
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
Swiss populist attacked by knife-wielding pensioner
Photo: File
Bern argues over passports for 3rd generation foreigners
Photo: Broad Bean Media
Muslim pupils must shake hands – ‘no ifs and buts’
jobs available