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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Monica Doumit: Evert talk urgently needed

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Jason evert - The catholic weekly
Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024

“It’s a Catholic school, what do they expect is going to be taught?”

“If they don’t want Catholic teaching, they shouldn’t be at a Catholic school.”

These were the most frequent comment I heard from my friends following the confected parental and student outrage over planned talks by US speaker, Jason Evert.

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The small amount of backlash, amplified by left-leaning media outlets and many professional protestors with no connection to Catholic schools saw three out of the four schools that had booked Evert to speak cancel his compulsory, live talks, and replace them with optional livestreams.

The cancellations didn’t have much of an impact, though.

Within hours, other schools filled the empty spots, with one livestreaming it to eight additional schools that missed out on having him present. “So, as a result of all the chaos and protests, we are going to reach more souls than ever,” Evert said. “When you consecrate a trip to Our Lady, she takes care of things.”

While it all seemed to have worked out in the end, it is disappointing for those students who will miss out on seeing him live. They will be able to access the livestream, but Evert’s presentation is only part of his ministry. He makes himself available after delivering a talk for anyone who wants to speak with him privately and share their personal story.

Jason Evert - The Catholic weekly
Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024

On Monday, Evert addressed more than 1000 kids from Sydney Catholic Schools who had signed up for the event. For many, it was their second time hearing him speak—Evert was in Sydney in December for the Purpose Conference and spoke to thousands of students and young adults over several days. He remained at the event for hours after the talk so that he could speak with any student who sought him out.

In the evening, he spoke at another Sydney Catholic Schools event, this time organised for more than 500 parents. Peppering his serious advice with humour, Evert encouraged parents to have a solid interior life and not give up praying for their kids, to develop a good network of parents from whom they could learn, and to model good relationships for their children by the way they lived their own marriage. This included having regular “date nights,” not speaking ill of their spouse and not consuming pornography.

Pretty dangerous stuff if you ask me. He should be cancelled.

He went on to offer advice on ways to speak to teenage kids who have hit the phase in life where they respond to parental questions with single-word answers, on internet safety and on.

Outrageous, right?

Truthfully, what Evert has to say to parents and students is needed now more than ever, and it is urgent.

On the morning that the talks were cancelled, the front-page story for the Daily Telegraph was about the “soaring rates of suicide and self-harm” in young women in particular because they are basing their self-worth on the number of social media likes they receive. It also noted that social media apps are being used to rate the sexual attractiveness of girls and for gender-based abuse.

The day before the talks were cancelled, SBS News reported on a survey published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health that found “high pornography exposure among young Australians helps fuel violence and violent attitudes towards women.”

Jason Evert - The Catholic weekly
Images by Giovanni Portelli Photography © 2024

One would think that a speaker who affirms young women in their God-given dignity and challenges the narrative that they need to make themselves more sexually attractive to be worthy of love is exactly what is needed at a time when we are seeing the devastating mental health impacts of girls placing their value in the number of “likes” they receive for their selfies.

One would think that sexual violence might be reduced if young men listened to someone who told them they shouldn’t ask a girl out until they had quit watching porn.

But those objecting refuse to consider that the “modern sexual values” they insist kids are taught, even in Catholic schools, might be part of the problem instead of the solution and dismiss Evert out of hand because he has the audacity to speak about chastity (otherwise known as sexual restraint).

As Dr Anthony Cleary, Director of Mission and Identity at Sydney Catholic Schools, said in his vote of thanks: “There’s not a problem with his talk, there’s a problem with those people’s thinking because what you heard today and what 1000 students heard today is that pornography causes a problem; that social media causes a problem; that we need to have personal boundaries; that from a very young age, we can have healthy relationships; that there is a clear objectification of women and that ultimately, our families should be a source of life and love. That is a positive, good news message so how anyone can disagree with that, I’m not sure.”

Indeed.

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