The Vatican Council for the Family has published a course meant to assist parents and educators with their discussions about sex and in processing the messages concerning sex that young people see on social media.

The program is called “The Meeting Point: The Adventure of Love,” and focuses on promoting a conversation between teens and their parents and teachers about sexuality.

In September of 2015 at the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and at the October 2015 Vatican Synod on the Family, the plan was realised and became a step toward mending what the Vatican sees as a deterioration of marriage and the family, reports the Catholic News Agency:

“One of the most delicate tasks that parents have to face in the education of their children is their emotional formation, so they can respond to the most decisive vocation for every human being: the vocation to love,” wrote Archbishop Vincent Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family.

And, to accomplish this ‘vocation of love,’ mothers and fathers can depend on schools, teachers, and other members of the church community. Bishop Carlos Simon Vazquez, Under Secretary to the Pontifical Council for the Family and Dr. Anthony Crespo, made a presentation in July at World Youth Day 2016 in Krakow that explained and summarized the project.

The program is available online at www.affectiveformation.org in English, Spanish, and five other languages. More languages will be added in the future.

The program may be accessed in school, at home, and through community associations to aid teens in their search for happiness and meaning.

“In this context, the Pope clearly speaks in favor of sex education,” said Bishop Simon. He quoted Amoris Laetitia: “It is not easy to approach the issue of sex education in an age when sexuality tends to be trivialized and impoverished. It can only be seen within the broader framework of an education for love, for mutual self-giving.”

Inés San Martin, Vatican Correspondent for the Crux, says the new course was designed to be an alternative to today’s standard models for sex education. The aim is to avoid a curriculum that teaches too much or too little of what adolescents need to know about human sexuality.

Whether directly or indirectly, secular projects challenge the Christian viewpoint of the human body, the contrasts and similarities between men and women, and the manner of navigating sexuality, marriage, and family, notes Italian Archbishop Vicenzo Paglia.

But, the new project has caused a group of Catholics in the United States who are socially conservative to petition Pope Francis to withdraw the program, writes Sabrina Eaton for Advance Ohio. The opponents say that some of the pictures, photographs, anecdotes, and teachings are “immoral, inappropriate, and tragic.” They say the role of parents is being ignored in this program for educating their kids about sex.

The organizers of the petition say the course includes pictures of Rodin’s sculpture “The Kiss” and a provocatively-dressed girl undulating with a man. Short stories used to encourage discussion include a story of a boy trying to “pick up some chicks,” and a photo of President Obama looking at a woman’s buttocks. These lessons are vulgar and inappropriate, they say. The Pontifical Council did not respond to their remarks.

Members of the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists give the course an A+. Kathy G. Slaughter, a sex therapist, said the objection was “misplaced and overblown.” She added that some of her Catholic friends get upset over any program that does not preach the “abstinence only” approach.

Tina Schermer Sellers, the author of the upcoming book “Sex, God & the Conservative Church – Erasing Shame from Sexual Intimacy,” is happy that the new curriculum diverts from the many former teachings that she says have been “ineffective and often hurtful.”