Pope Francis has had much to say about reproduction as of late, not all of it consistent. Earlier this year, the Pope's apparent support for family planning generated controversy. During his January trip to the Philippines, Pope Francis states that believers do not have to "make children in series", stressing the importance of "responsible parenthood". "God gives you methods to be responsible," he said, according to the National Catholic Reporter. "Some think that -- excuse the word -- that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No."
Were Pope Francis' comments a subtle show of support for family planning? Were they a form of "pregnancy shaming" toward women who bear multiple children? Were they an example of blatant hypocrisy from a pontiff whose church forbids contraception and abortion, which prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place? His statement has many implications.
In contrast to his Philippines statements, Pope Francis' recent address urged people to bear children, lest they be branded as "selfish". Vatican Radio posted a transcript of Pope Francis' February 11th catechesis, in which he waxed poetic about children as "gifts".
"Children are the joy of family and society. They are not a problem of reproductive biology, or one of many ways to realize oneself in life. Let alone their parent’s possession. Children are a gift. Do you understand? Children are a gift!"Later in the catechesis, Pope Francis criticized "depressed" societies that fail to breed with gusto, chiding people who see children as a burden. He called the choice to remain childless "selfish", insisting that children bring happiness to their parents.
"However, even a society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society.The hypocrisy of a childless, celibate cleric calling other childless people "selfish" boggles the mind. Equally boggling is Pope Francis' oblivious attitude toward childbearing. Women who bear many children are chided for breeding like "rabbits", while people who chose not to have children are derided as "selfish". Catholics can't win!
Just think of the many societies we know here in Europe. They are depressed societies because they don’t want children, they don’t have children. The birth rate doesn’t even reach 1%, why? Everyone should think about that and answer it personally.
If a generous family of children is viewed as if it were a burden, there is something wrong! As the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI teaches, but having more children cannot be automatically viewed as an irresponsible choice. The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished! Children learn to take charge of their family, they mature in the sharing of sacrifices, and they grow in appreciation of its gifts. The experience of joyful fraternity animates the respect and care of parents, who are due our gratitude."
As a childfree person, I'm sick of sanctimonious busybodies calling those who choose not to have children "selfish". Children should be wanted, not created out of duty or shame. Let me remind Pope Francis and other know-it-alls why some people are not parents.
No desire for children. Some people simply don't want offspring. It's just a fact. Why pressure people to become parents when they draw no enjoyment from children?
Wrong temperament for parenthood. Some people lack the emotional stability, maturity, stamina, patience, or nurturing heart needed to raise children. Despite Pope Francis' insistence that parenthood is universally good, some people shouldn't be parents.
Overpopulation. Our planet is groaning under the weight of 7 billion people and growing. Renouncing parenthood is a sensible decision when the human race can't even care for all its members right now.
Insufficient money. In these economically difficult times, not everyone can afford children. Food, clothing, toys, day care, medical care, and a college education cost money, which not everyone has in abundance. A church leader who lives in opulence at the Vatican is in no position to order struggling people to bear children and thereby undermine their financial stability.
Health issues. Pregnancy is physically demanding, even for healthy women. Health problems such as gestational diabetes and blood pressure spikes are worrisome enough, much less dangerous complications such as eclampsia and uterine rupture. Some women simply cannot carry a pregnancy without endangering their health or lives.
Other priorities. Some people simply don't have the time to raise children because other aspects of their lives -- career, community life, caring for relatives, monastic vows -- take higher priority.
Inappropriate environment for children. People who live in harsh environments might not want to subject a child to their struggles. People living in war zones, ecologically devastated areas, and impoverished communities have valid reasons for postponing or foregoing parenthood.
Despite his PR efforts, Pope Francis' mask is slipping. Underneath the facade of an enlightened pope is a retrograde church elder who still refuses to live in the 21st century. Pope Francis' Humanum address, his statement to the Pontifical Council for Culture, and now his comments on parenthood have revealed his true colors.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
Love, Joy, Feminism: Pope Tries to Have It Both Ways on Family Size
Progressive Secular Humanist: Childfree Pope Francis says not having children is ‘selfish’
The Inquisitr: Pope Francis: Not Having Children Is A ‘Selfish Choice’