Mexico rejects church criticism of sex education

Mexico City, Mexico -- Mexican educators and officials defended the country's public school sex education Friday from criticism by a Roman Catholic bishop who said such teachings make celibacy vows more difficult for priests to keep.

Education Secretary Alonso Lujambio told reporters that public-school sexual education texts "seek to make our boys and girls responsible, to take responsibility for their actions, and for that they need information."

Lujambio said the programs are careful to avoid "hurting any social sensitivities."

On Thursday, Bishop Felipe Arizmendi said that "when there is generalized sexual licentiousness, it is more common to have pederasty."

"In the midst of the invasion of so much eroticism, it is not easy to remain faithful in celibacy, or in respecting children," Arizmendi, the bishop of the San Cristobal de las Casas diocese in Chiapas state, said at a meeting of Mexican bishops.

He said part of the blame for the current environment lies with sex education programs that gave "only genital information."

In a statement Friday, the Mexican Association for Sexual Health, a group of professional counselors and educators, defended the need for the government sex-ed programs and criticized the bishop's comments.

"Those of good conscience in the church should stop this absurdity and find good help," the statement said.

"Blaming the problems that the Catholic Church has had with priests' sexually abusing minors on sex education makes no sense," it added. "It borders on the pathetic."