Young people need “clear moral principles” to help guide them when forming relationships, warns the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham.
The Most Revd Vincent Nichols added that parents should be an example to their children of “faithful unswerving love”.
The Archbishop’s caution comes just a week after the Government unveiled a booklet which advises parents not to give moral guidance when discussing sex with their children.
Speaking at St Chad’s Cathedral in Birmingham yesterday, he said: “Casual, come and go liaisons only damage us. Sex education, as popularly understood, no matter how many millions are spent on it, will never alone guide our youngsters.”
The Archbishop warned of a society trying to exist without God and a generation of young people growing up without clear moral guidance.
He warns: “They, like us all, need clear moral principles to guide our actions, principles which arise from our very being and are not, therefore, repressive impositions from without.
“But above all else, youngsters need the example of parents who can show them, in daily living and from an early age, both the beauty and the cost of faithful, unswerving love.”
Family campaigners are concerned that parents are being sidelined by the Government’s approach to sex education.
They say the Government failed to consult parents properly on its new plans for compulsory sex education in schools, and warn that teenagers are being provided with contraceptives and abortion services without their parents’ knowledge.
A new booklet launched last week, Talking to your Teenager about Sex and Relationships, which tells parents to avoid stating moral boundaries in discussions about sex in case it made their children afraid to be open with them.
Last week it was revealed that teenage pregnancy had increased in England and Wales in 2007.
This prompted criticism that the Government’s strategy of handing out contraceptives and information about sex to young people is not working.
Yet the Department of Health announced shortly after the figures were released that a further £20.5 million was to be invested in sex clinics, long-term contraceptive implants and advertising campaigns.
The Government’s Teenage Pregnancy Strategy aimed to cut teen conceptions in half by 2010, but is likely to fall desperately short of this target.