For several years, the Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes Foundation has used the image of Pope Francis to disseminate educational material based on gender ideology, and aimed at children in a dozen countries in Latin America.
If you visit a Catholic bookstore in Latin America, you are sure to come across an attractive collection of children's books called Con Francisco a mi lado – “With Francis by My Side.” A photograph of the Sovereign Pontiff adorns each volume as a sponsorship.
Let’s open one of these picture books: in Me, I Am a Dog, the child discovers the story of a “brave little white cat who wants to be seen as a dog.” At the end of the story, our feline hero achieves its goals, thanks to the mediation of a donkey which identifies itself with a horse: “the image and the idea that we evolve of ourselves throughout our life,” explain the editors to the parents, by way of a concluding moral.
Me, I am a Dog is not an isolated case. Another story in the collection is called La diversidad, Diversity. The child finds there the assertion that, “There are children who have a father and a mother. Others, two fathers and two mothers. Others, one mother and two fathers, or two mothers and one father.” The ambiguity is palpable. But equivocation is never good in education.
In the guide for parents and educators, the editor explains that the aim of La diversidad is to teach that “diversity goes beyond the social group or the culture to which we belong....It includes age, physical characteristics, and sexual orientation.”
“With Francis by My Side” is a publication edited by Scholas Occurrentes, a global network of 400,000 schools around the world, established as a pious foundation of pontifical right on August 15, 2015, by a chirograph from Pope Francis.
The latter then praised the purpose of the association “consistent with the mission of the Church.” An update of the pontifical certificate becomes urgent because, until further notice, gender ideology is not part of the universal ordinary magisterium.
The scandal is nothing new: already in April 2016, in the online magazine Christian Order, the Catholic journalist Maike Hickson had sounded the alarm evoking the harmfulness of the collection adorned with the image of Pope Francis.
A warning signal that does not seem to have been heard between the walls of St. Martha’s House, since in March 2019, the sovereign pontiff went to the Palais St. Callixte—seat of the pontifical foundation—in order to launch the international project “Programming for peace,” in the company of young computer experts.
In an email sent on January 12, 2021 to Virginia Priano, communications director of Scholas Occurrentes, the Catholic agency ACI Prensa asked if the books in question had really received the approval of Pope Francis and the Holy See: no response has been given to date.
It is astonishing, to say the least,—considering that at one time the schools run by the Society of Jesus were the jewels of Catholic teaching—that the first Jesuit pope in history is presented as the promoter of one of the most secularized school systems.