Good Times for Dogs, Not So Good for Babies – A Reflection on the Perversity of Modern Culture

“Yawning baby” by Bobjgalindo – Own work. Licensed under GFDL via Wikimedia Commons.

In moral decline, both personal and cultural, the problem is that not only do we desire what is evil, we also stop desiring that which is good and holy. At the heart of desiring what is evil (or what is good, but to excess), are pride, greed, lust, and gluttony. Sloth and envy are more involved in no longer desiring what is good.

Sloth is a kind or sorrow or aversion to the good things God offers to us, involving everything from the life of prayer to virtues such as moderation, chastity, generosity, and forgiveness. Envy is sorrow or anger at the goodness or excellence that others manifest, because I take it to lessen my own standing. Thus the soul or culture that is in moral decline no longer desires what is good and even detests it.

No matter how you look at it, moral decline is an ugly business. Consider the following example of a cultural trend in which what is good (having children) is no longer desired by an increasing number in our culture. There was a column in the New York Post recently entitled More Women Choosing Dogs Over Motherhood. The article begins,

America’s next generation of youngsters should be called “Generation Rex.” If you’re wondering why playgrounds around the city are so quiet and dog runs are packed, a new report has an answer: More and more US women are forgoing motherhood and getting their maternal kicks by owning handbag-size canines … Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that a big drop in the number of babies born to women ages 15 to 29 corresponds with a huge increase in the number of tiny pooches owned by young US women … “I’d rather have a dog over a kid,” declared Sara Foster, 30, a Chelsea equities trader who says her French bulldog, Maddie, brings her more joy than a child. “It’s just less work and, honestly, I have more time to go out. You … don’t have to get a babysitter.” [1]

Well, you get the point. The article goes pretty much downhill from there.

One hopes that when these women get a little older they will think differently. However, even among the married, more (as many as 20%) are choosing the childless route. Last summer there was a Time Magazine cover story about “The Childfree Life” and the web edition of the article was subtitled “The American birthrate is at a record low. What happens when having it all means not having children?” The article begins,

[At] 50, Angela Scott [who is married 24 years and intentionally childless, says she] is more than fine: she’s fulfilled. And she’s not alone. The birthrate in the U.S. is the lowest in recorded American history. From 2007 to 2011, the fertility rate declined 9%. A 2010 Pew Research report showed that childlessness has risen across all racial and ethnic groups, adding up to about 1 in 5 American women who end their childbearing years maternity-free, compared with 1 in 10 in the 1970s … [2]

We have discussed here before the demographic harm caused by low birthrates. But if you want to read a thoughtful article from a Catholic demographer, see the CARA Blog Post. Among his observations, author Mark Gray writes,

The effects of fertility decline are not just limited to the state budget and care for seniors. A future of fewer people year-over-year will also be one of perpetual economic stagnation or recession for all. Currently it costs a middle class family $245,340 to raise a single child to the age of 18 in the United States. If a couple has two kids that’s close to half a million dollars they inject into the economy. A skeptic might say they would have just spent that money on something else if they had no children. Perhaps but as most parents know having a child can “encourage” you seek out more income out of necessity (e.g., dads, on average, make more than non-dads and the combined incomes of a mom and dad outpace a couple with no children). As I write Japan is again in a recession. Downturns and anemic growth have become the normal way of life there for decades and will be so for the foreseeable future until they begin to grow demographically again (innovations and exports have been insufficient).

For the purposes of this post, I would like to return to the opening point: moral decline consists not only in desiring what is wrong, but also in no longer desiring what is good. Here are a few additional reflections on the problem of no longer desiring what is good (in this case, new life and children).

I. Children are a very great blessing. This is not only the biblical tradition, but also the instinctive assumption of Western culture (and arguably every healthy culture). Until about 1950, children were sought in number, valued, and appreciated. Even in the 1960s it was common to speak of pregnancy and birth as “the blessed event.” By current standards, family sizes were large. In my youth of the 1960s, it was common for families to have four or five children. And many of my older parishioners (those in their 70s and up) came from families of twelve or more. This was not only normal, it was considered good.

Parents and extended families shared in the raising of children, not because they had to, but because they wanted to. Getting married and having children was a central goal in life, a supreme blessing.

The Scriptures well attest that fertility was sought after. Children were considered a blessing and barrenness was one of the worst of curses.

  1. Genesis 1:27-28 So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.
  2. Exodus 23:25-26 Worship the Lord your God, and his blessing will be on your food and water. I will take away sickness from among you, and none will miscarry or be barren in your land. I will give you a full life span.
  3. Deuteronomy 7:12-14 If you pay attention to these laws and are careful to follow them, then the Lord your God will keep his covenant of love with you, as he swore to your ancestors. He will love you and bless you and increase your numbers. He will bless the fruit of your womb … You will be blessed more than any other people; none of your men or women will be childless, nor will any of your livestock be without young.
  4. Psalm 127:3-5 Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court.
  5. Psalm 128:1-4 Blessed are all who fear the Lord, who walk in obedience to him. You will eat the fruit of your labor; blessings and prosperity will be yours. Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house; your children will be like olive shoots around your table. Yes, this will be the blessing for the man who fears the Lord.

II. Only recently has having children come to be considered burdensome. And even more than burdensome, many people outright fear having “too many” children. I often see young couples, especially the woman, visibly cringe when I suggest that they consider having more than two children.

There are many cultural reasons we have arrived at this place, among them feminism, dual incomes, women wanting careers, modern economic realities, the move to urban vs. rural settings, the rise of the consumerist mentality, the expectation of a lavish standard of living, and the advent of retirement plans (children used to be your social security, since they cared for you in your old age). Much of this has resulted in a contraceptive mentality and an almost irrational fear of having children.

But the point here is that this is all rather new. Most of us who are fifty or older remember a time when this thinking was not the norm.

III. Whatever the “cultural and sociological roots,” all this has led us to a sinful rejection of one of God’s greatest blessings: children (life). And make no mistake, this sinful rejection of the good of children is itself the result of sin. Our sin, our desire for what is evil, has now led us collectively to no longer desire what is good, in this case children.

How has this come to pass? Morally speaking, lust has led to a darkened intellect and to disordered desires wherein we not only desire that which is evil, but also fail to desire that which is good. Our collectively sinful, promiscuous, and disgraceful attitudes toward marriage and sexuality have collectively darkened our intellects and led to a voracious appetite for sex (lust) as well as a fear of what we know to be the intrinsic fruit of sex: children.

In our darkened minds, we have separated what God has joined. Sex is meant to be joyfully and seriously tied to marriage and having children. In the contraceptive revolution we severed those ties, declaring that there was no necessary connection between having sex and having children. Yes, we separated what God intended to be joined: sex, marriage, and family.

So, we have sown the wind and now we reap the whirlwind … of pornography, sexually transmitted disease, teenage pregnancy, single motherhood, rampant divorce, abortion, the profound confusion that is the celebration of homosexual acts, and every bizarre “gender-bender” ideology our collectively darkened culture can devise.

Meanwhile, the very fruit to which sex is meant to be joyfully joined is increasingly seen as an outcome more dreadful than anything just mentioned. It is an outcome so horrible that many women are willing to ingest a kind of pesticide that dramatically alters the endocrine system, kills the spark of life in them, and attacks the normal and healthy function of their bodies. It is a result so frightening that men are willing to be gelded.  And this leads us back to where we started: many women and couples would rather raise dogs than children.

The perversity of this outcome is difficult to overstate. Somehow I am reminded of Morticia Addams, the matriarch of TV’s Addam’s Family, who used to cut the roses off her rose bushes because she hated the beautiful blooms and preferred the thorns and half-dead look of barren rose bushes. (Thus, see above.)

And speaking of Morticia leads me to my last point.

IV. The Culture of Death – Low birthrates and childless couples are yet another outcome of what has fittingly been called the “culture of death.” In effect, this phrase, used frequently by both St. John Paul and Pope Benedict, describes a culture in which the death (or non-existence) of human beings is proposed as a “solution” to problems. The celebration of contraception as a “virtue” surely points to this mentality.

The myth of overpopulation has caused a lot of fears. Further, concerns about inadequate resources have also proven to be unfounded. The improper and/or inadequate distribution of resources (usually due to war and corruption) is problematic. But the death (or non-existence) of human beings is not the solution and in fact leads to other economic difficulties.

In the end, the “culture of death” is the result of sinfully selfish desires and fears. Jesus, while speaking of horrors to come in His own time, surely knew of our times as well and His words in this Lucan passage are prophetic of the current culture of death:

Luke 23:28-31 A large number of people followed him (on the way to Golgotha), including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, ‘Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!’ Then “ ‘they will say to the mountains, “Fall on us!” and to the hills, “Cover us!” ’ For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?”

Yes, such are our times, when a great number cry out, “Blessed are the wombs that do not bear and the breasts that do not nurse!” And the “green wood” of Jesus’ innocence has surely given way to the “dry wood” that is the modern lack of appreciation for the beauty of life, marriage, and sexuality.

These are good times for dogs, not so good for babies. Morticia (a name that means death) would be pleased.

79 Replies to “Good Times for Dogs, Not So Good for Babies – A Reflection on the Perversity of Modern Culture”

  1. You know, regarding sexual lust and the breakdown in the understanding of marriage, we could certainly point to those decades and even perhaps centuries of clerical sexual abuse (world-wide) which occurred and absolutely contributed to some of the most egregious attitudes about human sexuality. If there is a curse, one could say that it is on those (in some degree, large or small – I don’t know) whose job it was to shepherd, but who instead were wolves feeding on the most innocent and vulnerable and teaching them to do likewise. If one’s moral leader is corrupt, how much more corrupt will be the follower – the children and their children and their children’s children? Was it not like that in Sodom and Gomorrah? These wolves would have had exposure to the largest urban populations, so the disease of sexual perversion would have been more easily spread in a way like the bubonic plague and AIDS spread. And as the disease spread, it found its way to lightly populated areas where the children would not even have access to a good shepherd who could lead them to safety. And now the baton has been passed to the leaders of nations to continue to give bad example and to continue to encourage the children toward sexual immorality by passing laws to help them “clean up” after they have sinned.

    Why pick on the morally-wounded and the truly barren here? Why not call out the wolves and hirelings who opened the gates for the wolves to walk in and do harm, not only inside the Church, but to the world-wide population? Yes, much is in disorder now, but let us not beat the sick and wounded and call them fools when, perhaps, their moral leaders have been the real fools. If they are not responsible, then should the children have survived and prospered without them? Continuing along the path and example of Pope St. John Paul II and the Lord Jesus Christ would be a better approach than beating up the sick and wounded.

    I didn’t see mention of clerical sexual abuse here as a major contributor, so think it just to call it out as an admonition…since that is probably one of the most effective tools that satan seems to have for destroying faith and morality in the world…that is, bad example by those who live to give good example.

    1. Well, OK, but I don’t see statistically how your argument carries a lot of weight. Clerical sexual abusers amount to a tiny percent of an already tiny minority (i.e. priests). A BIGGER problem regarding clerics and our more influential role has been the silence of the pulpit and this and just about every other critical moral point. I personally refuse to be shamed or silenced over the abuse crisis. I have never abused anyone and have been faithful to my celibate commitment. And this is true about almost every priest I know.

      As for your other point about not “beating up the sick and wounded” – This HAS been the pastoral approach of the last 50 years. And how is that working for us Taylor? The mess just gets deeper and deeper. Its time for a little more clarity and shining the light of truth. I prefer the model of St John Vianney who counseled that we should be tough in the pulpit (or blog site) and tender in the confessional. By the way I did not call anyone fools and I am directing my comments to the culture. Clearly the darkness is deepening and thus I use biblical imagery

      Finally, just a personal observation, This comment seems out of character for you Taylor.

      1. I think there is a problem with the phrase “fertility decline”. I think “reproductive decline” is more accurate as these “couples” have more often than not chosen to be childless (or to limit their numbers) regardless of their childbearing abilities.

        I’m curious, did those numbers include people who are unable to conceive but desperately wish to? I’m sure it is probably an insignificant difference, but not to them.

      2. I was not accusing you personally of anything dear Msgr Pope. I understand your point. Posts like this one are hard on people who cannot have children, and this post can embolden people against those couples who are married long without children; so, when we go to Mass, we are paranoid about something we cannot fix….knowing that the priest is accusing us because we have a pet but no children ( but not bothering to know why). And, just to be clear, I have never had a priest or representative of the Church ask us to adopt an orphan. We support other children however. So, I thought your blog to be unbalanced…we cannot avoid the reality of the damage that a cleric can do by mortally sinning and leading others to do the same….need to work on the root of the tree…make it more healthy so that the fruit will come forward and then also be healthy.

        1. Taylor, Sorry to hear that you feel this way.

          Have you ever asked the Priest that you assume is accusing you of not having children? If so, why would he accuse you of this when it is not possible for you to have children?

          If you want to adopt a child why do you not adopt a child? Why are you waiting to be told to adopt a child? Hope that this helps you.

          Happy Advent.

          1. I have not asked a Priest; my expression was one of a paranoid feeling, not necessarily a reality about how the Priest really thinks. I should have stated “assuming in my paranoia” instead of “knowing” (but when you are paranoid, it is almost like knowing unless reason and probability come to the aid.) There is a probability that a Priest thinks that way, understanding the theological basis with which he has been prepared to think and instruct…that dogs can not love (according to the logic of St. Thomas and Aristotle and disciples) and humans should not waste love on a dog whose soul goes to dust when it dies, but that children deserve that attention instead, since it prepares their souls for life with God in Heaven. But God has not given us such a child, and so it must not be His Will. Neither has He offered a child to be adopted. We wait on God.

          2. Hi Taylor,

            Thanks for sharing. I can say that I have had very similar experiences to you not with children but with assuming what others think without any evidence, I found this quite destructive on the mind, the conclusion that I reached was that it could be vanity and pride that does this to us.

            The way that I try to deal with it is by firstly remembering that our judgement can only be delivered by Jesus, he knows our good deeds, our hearts and our desires and it is better not to care what anyone thinks about us or our situation. O Mary, conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to you. btw not bragging but will keep you in my prayers. Please pray for us.

          3. Okay. Got the message. I give praise to God for His personal care of my soul when others are also too hurt to contribute. May God also heal your soul. Amen.

      3. And here is a site for an adoption agency (as an example). It is interesting to note that their mission is focused more on helping pregnant women GIVE UP (or jettison) their children rather than helping childless couples adopt a child…at least, that is the marketing language given that pregnant women looking to abort or jettison are the “target market” here. Now, I don’t mean to devalue the reality that they are most especially trying to safeguard children, but notice the language. The Church does a great job of helping and encouraging out- of-wedlock pregnant women ( making it easy to be removed from the responsibility of parenthood) but not so focused on encouraging and helping barren couples who have great potential for nurturing and raising a child? Why not start making “altar calls” for adoptive parents? I have never seen it done. Why not?

        Who notices the barren couple and then initiates an interest and counseling and encouragement and formation for potentially adopting and matching? Do you? Do your fellow priests? What would St. Don Bosco say about this? Would it be the right thing to do? Why or why not? Well, I don’t think it is being done.

        1. Hi Taylor,

          Our catechist adopted two children, she cannot have children and chose to adopt two children through her own free will. Another family who have children adopted a child with downs syndrome again through their own free will. The church is not there to tell us everything that we should be doing in every second of our lives we are supposed to have reason and comprehension of good and bad. If you feel that there is an opportunity to help people with counseling for adopting and can change things for the better go for it. This is how saints are made.

          Ask God to guide you.

  2. What a fantastic reflection!

    It is the one of the greatest sins (and sorrows) of my life that I succumbed to the selfishness you so accurately describe. And now, having come to my senses at long last, I find myself struggling to impart the beauty of openness to life to my (two) children. I am in the (well-deserved) position of having to say “Do as I say, not as I do” to them.

    With more children I’m sure my life would have been completely different, certainly less materially comfortable, but I know it would have been ever so much richer. The fact is, though, that I didn’t trust God enough to put my life in His hands. And I will regret that to the end of my days.


    1. Patty, I am a 54 year old mother of two. I understand EXACTLY what you have shared, because I too walk that same road.

    2. Patty, me too. Our sorrow is great over what we threw away. I suppose it is a fitting penance for the rest of our lives. But even in the midst of our regret, we are so very thankful to God for opening our eyes, ears and hearts through holy priests like our dear Msgr. Pope.

      1. Same with me Patty. I have regrets of not having more than two children. It seemed fine at the time, my husband was the only one working and very little money came in. I stayed home to raise our children. But looking back at it, I think God would have helped us get along if we would have had other children. We would have a richer familly in another sence. It would have been generous to offer our children maybe an extra brother or sister. Today, I’m very sad because it seems neither my daughter not my son will ever have children of their own. Unfortunately, it could be that we won’t have any grandchildren. Yes, my eyes, ears and heart have been openned thanks to God, but it seems too late now. I hope that he forgives me, and I now try to become a more welcoming person in my everyday life.

  3. Spot on again. I’ve also seen this preference for dogs in couples with small families. They have two or three children, then switch to dogs, even referring to them as their new babies.

  4. My niece has chosen that same route. She is 35 and has two Boston Terriers whom she loves as if they were her children and they are to her. A lot of this mentality stems from disappointment in relationships, starting with the parents. They see animals as more unconditional in their love for them, i.e., like God’s love. Many children today are the product of ungodly parents who impart their own selfishness onto their children. Thus, Sirach, Chapter 16 warns: Do not desire a multitude of useless children, nor rejoice in ungodly sons. If they multiply, do not rejoice in them, unless the fear of the Lord is in them. …to die childless is better than to have ungodly children.

  5. I’m always shocked at the local news sites…Put any sort of animal cruelty story up there, and wow, watch the outraged comments roll in, which is fine. But put a story up there about abortion or euthanasia in any sense, and all of sudden the same people are fighting for the right to end the lives of humans.

    Scary stuff.

  6. This is a sad reflection on our society today, but animals do sometimes give more love than humans and that’s what we all crave. Coming out of a very unfortunate divorce, I truly believed my cat gave me more love than my husband ever did.

    1. OK, but lets be clear, animals don’t “give love” since they do not have rational souls. Love requires a will, a capacity to decide. It does seem that animals, especially dogs have a kind of pack instinct that draws them to bond with their owners and feeders. In an era dominated by physical pleasure and comforts, it may well be that an animal’s physical capacities to snuggle and hover close, but without asking much in return will please us more. However, when one seeks and desires higher thinks like knowledge, justice, love, spiritual truth and elevation to the things of God, an animal is a poor companion. Sadly many do not seek or desire these things today, as noted. That human beings can be “content” with animals says a lot more about the humans than the animal. Of course such contentment cannot last or be real since we were made to know God.

      I see this bonding somewhat in cats too. But your cat cannot hate you or turn on you because it cannot also love you. Your husband could hate you or become disaffected toward you because he had also the capacity to love you. We ultimately need to remember that the negative or dark side of love is also what gives loves it power and meaning. My “yes” is only meaningful if I could freely say “no.” And thus freedom and love carry great risk. It is true, human relationships are always going to be more complicated, but they are also more rich and completing. It is often in the tensions and sparing that we are challenged to think more deeply, and be refined. Dogs and cats don’t talk back. But just as it not healthy for us to merely seek human relationships that affirm, so it is even more unhealthy to hang with lesser creatures who cannot challenge us because they are not our equal. People prefer simplicity to complexity. But simply giving way to our preference in this consumerists, do what pleases you culture is not healthy.

      To cite St. Thomas’ distinction, animals can experience pleasure, but not joy (which again requires a rational soul, or intellect). Hence they cannot love though they can bond at a rudimentary level of need and survival. That this can be “enough” for us says a lot about our culture’s descent.

      1. Msgr, you are so correct. It is easy to assign emotion in place of loyalty, which is in effect what our pets give us. Love is best felt when it is given, not recieved. That ones spouse was too selfish to give love does not preclude one from imparting love on them.

        I learned just how true that is when my father was dying earlier this month. He had severe dimentia and was in a comatose state towards the end. He could give me absolutely nothing in the way of love as he had no idea who I was or even that I was there. Yet, those last few weeks of sitting by his bedside keeping vigil and praying with him were the most beautiful moments I have ever known. I miss them. I miss giving my love to him more than I miss him loving me.

      2. Wow, Msgr., your analysis is deep,! Our culture is really operating on a SUPERFICIAL LEVEL. True, true, animals cannot teach us patient, sacrifice, and holiness. Our culture is gone!

        1. that “….animals cannot teach us patience, sacrifice, and holiness….” I learned much of this from the commitment we gave to our rescued animals which we brought home to our family that also included our human children. It is not for the Msgr to determine whether one species can love another species and receive love in return. His notion of animals as not having “….rational souls….” has been debunked by more serious modern philosophers displacing the likes of Descartes and his ilk who, in order to justify vivisection which caused the screaming agony of animals and why scientists today justify experimentation and Catholics accept this lie without investigating for themselves. “Faith without works is dead.’

          1. I edited a bit of your comment that was ridiculing of the points made here. Apparent you have not learned enough of patients from you animals. I think name you use says enough about where you are coming from. But it is curious that you seek to appeal to “more serious modern philosophers” and to faith (metaphysical areas), if you are “JUSTanthropology” It is curious handle to write under, your focus is animals but you go by just ANTHROpology. For Anthro refers to man. Don’t you think you should com under a name like Animalia?

            Anyway your comments with rather sweeping accusations etc pretty well expose your views as extreme. I don’t think anyone here supports the vile practices you describe. I am no fan of Descartes but simply dismissing people who have thought differently from you as an “ilk” is poor rhetoric.

            True, it is not for me ALONE to determine if a species can love or has an intellect. But of course I don’t ask you to accept it just because I says so. I would appeal to evidence: Agens sequitur esse – If animals have intellect and will then where are their cities, bicameral legislators debating justice, where are their churches, where are their soup kitchens for poor animals, where are their jails for punishing abuses of their free will? Why do they kill each other instead of raising food through agriculture? Where are their anthropologists and why don’t those animal-anthropologists get on this blog and using insulting words to describe a priest they consider a bad man and dismiss other people they don’t like as an “ilk” and as less “serious” than people they agree with? Where are their protest marches to protest our vivisections? Where are their film crews to document all screaming animals that we flay alive? Where are their libraries etc.? Where is the evidence that they grow in knowledge that they accumulate over the centuries? Why do they stay stuck at the same levels of knowledge? Why do they not make discoveries and progress from rock spears, to tools with moving parts, to factories and the scientific method?

            I am just looking for evidence of a rational intellect and a passion to discover and grow beyond the rudimentary instinctual level that is observable in them. See, generally we humans have this funny notion of looking for some evidence of assertions. If doing follows being (agens sequitur esse) then where are to find the doing (agens) that follows the being (esse) of these animals who you say have rational intellectual powers and creative passions such as love that drive them to care for the poor among them and who have endless fascination with the meaning and purpose of the world around them that leads them to discover and grow and change?

  7. I have noticed this trend of emphasis on dogs for some time. So many talk about them and treat them as people! As with many of us, it seems to me to be another attempt to put something in a space that is yearning for God. It’s a sad state, your reflection is on the money again.

    1. The people that treat dogs like people keep dog trainers like Cesar Millan and others in booming business, because a dog that is treated like a person is going to act like an alpha dog, and oh boy, then there’s trouble.
      Dogs and cats (I have one of each and sadly, never married, so no kids) can never replace even one child. I have loved nieces and nephews more than any pet I have ever had, and I only see those kids occasionally! And I sure love my pets. But a person, a child, no…a pet could never replace that. Too bad some people who think their dog or cat is doing so and is happy about it have never known what it is to love a child.

      1. You can adopt Bee bee, but, of course, if you have the energy.:) Also, I think there’s a program called “Big Sister”.
        I think I will do that when my kids are grown up.

  8. Another “trend” somewhat connected, … only another symptom of the sickness of this culture, society the “new” elite educated adults care little about their parents/ family, entitled and self-made! There is a connection between the two.

  9. I have a sister-in-law who talks about her “grand dogs”. And, her “grand hamster”. So irritating and so sad. Her son, who shacked up with a girl for 10 years before marrying (outside the Church and only because the girl’s father was dying and she wanted her dad to see her get married), obviously has no kids, but two dogs. Both son and wife are high paid doctors who love to travel during their extensive down time. Kids would “interfere” with their chosen lifestyle. My brother, I know, would LOVE to have grandchildren, but that may never happen unless his youngest is more interested in kids. How anyone can chose DOGS over children is beyond me. Sure, kids can be a royal pain sometimes in the raising of them. But, the JOYS that come from them is PRICELESS, and grandkids (we have 2 so far and another on the way) are incredible.

  10. On point number II, next to blaming femenism, Id add male chauvinism.
    Roe vs Wade. I’ve known several husbands who didn’t want children…
    They forced their wives to have abortions, against their wills.

    1. 🙂 fair enough. I am Responding to the articles cited and that sets the tone. But clearly men are 50% the problem. Let me say however I have never really known what is meant by “Male Chauvinism.” The phrase is bandied about, and I know it is pejorative but I don’t know what it really means. I’ll also bet that it readers reposed, there will be 100 different definitions. So maybe to be more specific, what do YOU mean by it Anna?

      1. Thank you, Monsignor. I mean by experience that men blame women for failed relationships, that they dont care about womens thoughts/feelings when they conflict with theirs, that they dont want to be responsible/faithful husbands or fathers, that they prefer fantasy (ie, pornography) and dont want to let it go when in a relationship….
        That like my example above, they push abortion on their wives….rather than protecting their lives.

        God bless. Your littlest lamb, anna

      2. Msgr., I always thought Male Chauvinism is the sense of superiority and entitlement a some men feel in the presence of women: meaning, he’s entitled to the better job, more money, the better food, the more comfortable side of the bed, the softer pillow, the first hot water, the first cup of coffee and to drive the car (women can’t drive, you know). It is the patronizing way some men treat women as “the little woman,” as people who can’t think, and who are not rational beings, but just emotional, nonsensical, nice things to look at. Good for having children and doing simple tasks, like keeping house, but nothing of import and responsibility.
        I have men chauvinistic men (the man at the office who tries to get the women who are his peers to make copies for him and bring him coffee) but I am glad to say I have not met as many as feminists imply there are. Certainly, the majority of men are nothing like this. What feminists call chauvinistic is usually a man just being polite (like holding the door, or a chair, for a woman).

  11. I suggest you translate this blog post into Italian, since its even more applicable to that soon to be extinct nation.

  12. Shalom to all Christians 🙂 Calling this the possible End of Western Civilization/The End Times/The Possible Beginning of the End of The World Being Near, might not be far from the mark.

    I out of 3 women may have an Abortion in their life-times. (U.S. it may be)

    Globally there may be 1 Billion Abortions in a 10 or 20 yr time span.

    Jesus Blood Forgives all sins. (I’m sure the Monsignor knows: ‘the healthy don’t need a doctor but the sick do’ (sinners))

    Tough preaching produces soft hearts. — Kindness/Love/Tenderness is the way, if the Virgins are Wise — Matthew 25:1-13

    A Shepherd (Pastor) is maybe to know each of his sheep by name, (Love/Kindness) and to lead them to heaven to their death.

    Preaching against/Teaching about Sin from the Pulpit is mandatory, if sheep are getting worldly or are worldly — otherwise what good is a Shepherd for.

    Here are two interesting things:

    A lady in maybe Croatia, married her dog this year — There is even a website called:


    Calling these The End Times from all aspects, may be calling the Kettle Black.

    Regarding Divorce, I know this may be controversial, But Jesus said: Whoever divorces his wife (you could even say husband today) except for unchastity, and marries another commits adultery —-

    The rest may go on to a Conundrum — this article may help:

    Jesus is saying, you can Marry again if you spouse was unfaithful ::

    Who-ever divorces his wife (husband) or became divorced Because of UnChastity can marry again I would have the bravery to say.

    Call me crazy 🙂

    Maranatha/pax 🙂


        1. Victor, Greek has different words for husband and wife. If the Lord wanted to allow for divorce in the event of a faithless husband, he would have said so. Male fidelity as a foundation of marriage is a relatively recent fashion.

  13. One hopes that when these women get a little older they will think differently.

    One priest told me that in his many visits to hospice, he’s heard lots of people say they wished that they had more children. He has yet to hear anyone say they wish they had fewer.

    I also have an aunt-in-law past child-bearing age. Once we asked her on vacation to mind to stay in the hotel room while the kids were in bed as we went out to dinner. When we returned, she was in the room and had them all awake and playing. We didn’t mind and we kind of predicted she would. On the one hand it was nice that she got a chance to take delight in children, on the other hand it was sad because we knew she had regret.

  14. At UCF this Semester, I preached to the kids, saying something like: You all wait so long to get married, that you’re having sex outside marriage.

    I said, Mary (don’t remember if I said Jesus Mother) got Married when she was like 13.

  15. I think the feminist movement and current thinking about women is nothing short of a satanic attack. If we as women look for a role model, we should look to Mary. She was willing to subject herself to Joseph, to trust him to provide for her and Jesus and to build a home with him. I also think about the mystery of the nativity. Mary a young girl giving birth in a stable with only Joseph to act as doctor and midwife. She chose to follow him to Bethlehem when near birth rather than to stay safely with her family. We would later find out that it would not have been safe given the slaughter of innocents, but she could not have known that at the time. Her faith in her husband to follow him when an angel told him to go to Egypt leaving all that she knew and as a new mother. The devil has lured us (women) away from our feminine genius, rather than wanting to be moms when we grow up, we want to be doctors and lawyers and scientists, and when we get around to it to be moms. But we have lost sight of the gift of motherhood and of motherhood as a vocation. I am torn because I grew up with all of the feminist propaganda, and I do not want myself or other women to be subjected to drudgery as domestic servants. However, here is another lie that we are told–let us go out into the workforce and perform important work. It is not important. Few of us are able to point to a career that has any meaning beyond providing a pay check. I worked hard in business for 16 years, and at the end when there was significant management change, I look back and see it was for naught. It was “important” at the time and it fed my family and kept the company going, all good things, but it will never be as important as my husband and my children. Everywhere, women are told to be more like men–to start businesses, to fight like men in UFC, to play sports like men with Title IX. None of these things are bad, but they are not the best where we rely on our feminine genius to raise children and support our husbands. Women have lots to contribute, but we can not allow ourselves to be divorced from our vocation as wives and mothers. Wanting the nicer car and bigger house are all fine, but never at the cost of our family.

    1. ” Few of us are able to point to a career that has any meaning beyond providing a pay check.”–that is for sure. The myth of the career is something that people should write about also.

    2. R in Indiana, I agree 110% with your overall point. But it makes me think back to a hurtful comment someone made to me once, and the need to be sensitive in our conversations with individuals, since we don’t know the reasons why particular people are childless or pursuing careers. Someone could be suffering secret anguish because of infertility or because of having been divorced fairly young by a selfish man with no annulment possible. Or any number of scenarios.

      I’m not suffering from either of those things, but it hurt anyway when I had a woman make a rather cutting remark to me in conversation once. I was single with no children. I answered her question about my hobbies and was told, “Oh, I *used* to have that hobby, too. Until I had *more important* things to do like raise my kids.”

      I certainly agree that kids are more important than hobbies (even than harmless, commonplace inexpensive hobbies like mine). But was that comment really necessary? Couldn’t this person have left that part out and simply expressed a kindly interest in my innocent little hobby? That they themselves had brought up begin with? It bothered me. I can’t imagine how acutely painful a comment like that would have been if I already was suffering some secret anguish of some kind like some people do.

      I think something that can happen when we as Christians make choices that the culture looks down on is that we can fall into a kind of “reverse snobbery” (not saying you are doing this R in Indiana, just that it is something that’s possible for people to do, such as my interlocutor once upon a time). “Well, if the feminist looks down her nose at women who choose to stay at home with her kids; two can play that game – I can look down my nose at any woman who doesn’t have kids.” No, sorry, as Christians, we’re *not* supposed to play that game. Snobbery and self importance are NOT fruits of the Holy Spirit. Especially if we don’t know the reason a particular individual lacks children but does have a particular career or hobby.

      1. Good points! I have to say it can be difficult for single and childless women to find a place in the Catholic church. My children go to Catholic school in our own parish school, so I have a natural group of women with common interests. One of my good friends was the DRE and found it difficult to connect to others. It is hard to ask a buddy to go get an ice cream when you know she has multiple activities and a family to take care of. I do think we as Catholics need to do a better job with this, but I don’t have any brilliant ideas. I have a friend who has just started coming to church and I hope I can connect her with others who she can connect with as an adult.

        People can be incredibly thoughtless, and I generally refer to Mark Twain’s affirmation that we should never attribute to malice that which can be attributed to ignorance. I unfortunately do tend to judge others, and it is one of the many sins that I need to work on. I have been incredibly blessed, and it is easy to forget that others do not have the same luxuries that I do. After all, I converted to Catholicism, and I have had great catechesis both in my home parish and here as well.

        Thanks for replying.

        1. Thanks R in Indiana for such a gentle and thoughtful reply. You are right of course that I ought to give the benefit of the doubt to the speaker of the unfortunate remark. And I have plenty of snobbish weeds in my own garden that I ought to give more attention to pulling out. 🙂 You sound like a great friend! Your parish and people you know are lucky to have you around.

      2. With all due respect, what was your point? You say that someone could not have children for valid reasons, such as “infertility or because of having been divorced fairly young by a selfish man”, and then indicate neither of those reasons applied to you. In other words, you were focusing on your career, rather than the far more important calling of motherhood. We are called to preach the truth, not to avoid offending obviously sensitive people.

        1. Yes, we’re called to preach the truth – in love. Jumping to conclusions is not a real accurate way to get at the truth about a person, nor is it a good way to show love. You’re right that those two examples did not apply to me, but neither does the conclusion you’ve jumped to. I value career pretty low and motherhood very highly (although not so highly that I’d seek to be a mother prior to getting married… it’s my understanding the Lord generally frowns on fornication :)) Did you miss that I was single at the time when that unkind remark was made?

          I mean, I guess in response to her I could have whipped out my own spiritual snobbishness and retorted that the Church has always taught that virginity is a higher state than marriage, “so my prayers and good works trump your child rearing so there.” 🙂 You laugh because that’s so silly! But so was the put-down about my not being a mother. Because that is just not what life is about! We are not in some sort of “who is holier”, “who’s more spiritually important” contest. Was I oversensitive because I felt hurt and taken aback by the comment rather than being able to laugh it off right away as the nonsense it was? Perhaps. But that doesn’t make it okay to make those kinds of comments.

          And as far as what is my overall point? It’s that we need to preach the truth *in love*, to be kind and thoughtful in *how* we speak that truth to one another. We need to avoid spiritual snobbishness and petty putdowns like the nasty plague that they are. We need to follow St Paul’s admonition that preaching without love is about as useful as a clanging gong or a clashing cymbal and we need to follow what he says about love being “patient, kind, never rude, never gives offense.” And yes, I am talking to myself as much as anyone! I clang away often enough!

          One formulation that’s really helpful for me to remind myself not to is “people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” And who knows, maybe that’s the reason God allowed for my feelings to be hurt by that thoughtless remark once upon a time, so I would care. I probably would be a lot worse person than I am without that sting teaching me about the potential for my own words to cause unnecessary pain and motivating me to work on getting better about being thoughtful and tactful, especially in areas where people are likely to be sensitive. Maybe one day I’ll be as nice as R in Indiana 😉

  16. Well, my husband and I would be pretty bored without the children, but we would certainly be well-rested! Seriously, raising children is HARD. And our brood of 4 are all still preschoolers and under, so it’s only going to get harder. It really IS easier to be childless, I think. But is easier necessarily better?? As far as I’m concerned Jesus showed us what love looks like — the Cross. Bearing and raising children is joyful, but it is also a Cross that has to be willingly accepted for what it is. I would never be able to get through yet another sleepless night if I didn’t think of the Cross.

  17. The problem of self-imposed infertility stems from a profound lack of trust in God. Every excuse given for abortion and/or contraception cannot stand before Him.

    Lack of money? Trust God to give you what you need.
    Too young? Trust God to send people to help you.
    Victim of a crime? This child could be a miracle to another couple or even the world.

    No one can truly believe they know more than God if they know Him. Problem is, the dang world is shouting at our children and we aren’t protecting them with the example or our own faith. Too often they see us make a chore of gong to church, rush through prayers if we even pray at all, or give them “do as I say not as I do” parenting.

    It’s time to wear our faith boldly and proudly, so the world can get to know God again.

  18. Hello, I have become a fan of your insightful articles. They are helping me. However, I am disturbed by some in the Church, like Archbishop Blasé Cupich of Chicago, who support continuing giving the Holy Eucharist to pro-abortion politicians that profess to be Catholic. He was asked about this recently on Face the Nation by Norah O’Donnell. His answer really bothers me. Isn’t he encouraging receiving the Eucharist unworthily, and doesn’t that put people’s souls in jeopardy? As you mentioned in your column the other day, we are called to stop being like the rest of the world. I get confused. I can’t understand why it’s okay to give pro-abortion Catholic politicians Communion. Is there a need for confession anymore? I’m so confused. I know you can help me understand. Thank you.

    1. Yes, receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin (e.g. UNREPENTANT pro-abortion Catholic politicians) is a sin of sacrilege:

      1 Corinthians 11:27-30 Revised Standard Version Catholic Edition (RSVCE):

      Partaking of the Holy Eucharist Unworthily:

      27″ Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of profaning the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Let a man examine himself, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For any one who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment upon himself. 30 That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.” – 1 Corinthians 11:27-30

  19. In pornography, artificial birth control, abortion world, if an employer wants to reduce wages or benefits there is less likely to be push-back than there is in no pornography, no artificial birth control, no abortion world, because, when pornography, artificial birth control, and abortion are available, it is easier for people to fall back on those things than to push-back against their employers. This rule applies both to when employers directly reduce wages and benefits or indirectly do so by, for example, encouraging the government to devalue currency. That is a concrete example of the evils to which free markets fall prey, which the Church, in general, warns about.

    That is why it is unheard of, or seldom hear of, for business health insurance plans not to include artificial birth control and why so often corporations and well known businessmen, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, come down on the side of death in culture of death issues.

  20. Atheists place ‘Skip Church for Christmas’ billboards in bible belt |

    Billboard Reads: Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.
    (Billboards to display from Dec. 1 to Dec. 24)

    I hope they like fire fairy tales – lol’s 🙂 — Real fire on the way possibly soon (The Lake of Fire may be about 2,750 fahrenheit)

    Brimstone is or may be still on the ground at Sodom/Gomorrah — burns blue — it burns through stainless steel it may be.

    The melting point of Stainless Steel is 2,750 degrees.


  21. Interestingly , there are also young couples who like larger families of 4-5 children atleast and thankfully , these are committed families who found strenght and joy in the faith , atleast in early adulthhod .

    Wonder if having a stronger presence and voice for the Hebrew Catholics would be a way to have a good marriage of the Old Testament ideal of larger families and respect for celibacy /consecrated life , which is what we see more upheld and rightily so , in The Church .

    Bringing spiritulaity into parenting , to make it less strenous could be a focus too – such as encouarging parents , even before marriage , to start practicing certain devotions etc which , in turn could help a good bit , in having children who are easier to deal with .. – Bl.Mother , under the title of – Untainted Purity , asking for 3/ 4 rosaries a day ..not that hard either., once we set our mind to it and ask her for the grace to do same ..

    if it helps persons from running around after fruitless , tiring endeavors and helps the children to be more loving , by taking in her pure love ..and once that habit comes in, having to wake up in the middle of the night , the mind and heart might be programmed enough , to return to that fount of love and purity again and again be set free from the effects of all forms of idolatry , which comes in so many guises in many a life in our times – greed for pleasure , disordered attachments , envy ; uniting with all who are occasions of same and with The Mother, calling on her as ‘Untainted Purity’, on behalf of all and in spiritual union with all in one’s life who need prayers and God’s love , can drive away the dogs of gnawing memories of such occasions and instead , find joy , in being a warrior , for love !

    There in also one might get the hope and trust , in doing one’s loving role , to have more little ones , to sing and work with The Lord ..even through all eternity !

    Wonder if it would be good for churches , to have monthly blessing and consecrations of marraiges and expectant parents , may be even a bimonthly evening of Eucharistic Adoration geared more for similar group , as well as training in deliverance ministry – for deliverance from the very doggy spirits of Jezebel , as sequelae of idolatry of pleausre and self , as you have pointed out well , in the article !

    Mother of Untainted Purity , take over hearts and lives , setting us free from all that is not of you !

  22. Steve Ray, (a convert to Catholicism, by the way) on his Defenders of the Catholic Faith has observed the willingness to contracept, and when that doesn’t work, abort, is the equivalent of sacrificing our children to Moloch, because Moloch was the pagan god promising wealth. Steve Ray suggests modern people are once again sacrificing to Moloch in order to have material wealth (by avoiding the expense of children and being able to have two incomes). Very interesting insight, I think.

  23. Msgr. Pope; Thank you for your ministry and your terrific reflections. Listening to business news commentators on the radio, I often marvel when the dissect the whys and wherefore of a stagnant economy. They never mention what kind of economy we’d have if we had another 50 million consumers instead of 50 million abortions. I mentioned this to a co-worker once and he said something like, “yeah, if those 50 million were productive citizens and not just swelling the rolls of the welfare state.” I think the economic status of those aborted would mirror the economic proportions of the society as a whole. In the end, we’re much worse off with small families, economically and morally. Contraception is the root cause, or the “contraceptive mentality”, but I think pornography is the cesspool that nourishes the contraceptive mentality, turning women into objects.

  24. I don’t think lust is actually the most prominent sin in this regard. Maybe for people under 22 it is but, for older adults, the most common reasons I hear for not wanting kids are career and finances. I can see the rationale behind the financial reason even if I don’t agree with it. That anyone would place their job over having children astonishes me, however, and I usually find these people’s desire for power, wealth, and status over children places them much further from God than the struggling working class people who don’t have children out of fear.

  25. Prayer from Roman Breviary in English- …”Stir up, O Lord, we pray thee, thy strength, and come among us, that whereas through our sins and wickedness we do justly apprehend thy wrathful judgements hanging over us, thy bountiful grace and mercy may speedily help and deliver us.
    Who livest and reignest with God the Father in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.


  26. When reading about Sara Foster declaring that her French Bulldog brings her more joy than a child would, it reminded me about my neighbor down the street. He owned an adorable female French Bulldog named Mochi, but,sadly, he committed suicide by drug overdose last month. Dogs can bring great joy to life, but they are not the panacea that people think they are. Postscript: The suicide of Mochi’s owner(a single guy) led to her demise also when she was put to sleep by the owner’s relatives.

  27. Msgr. Pope,

    What if you think having children will make you a worse person, less prone to doing good deeds and more prone to sin?

    To give a few examples:

    – My wife and I give a decent amount to the church and people in need. If I had children, I would feel like I was taking this money from my children and would therefore give less of it away (in addition to needing more of it myself and giving less away for that reason).

    – We are moral as it relates to work: we would not steal or throw someone else under the bus to save our jobs, and would quit if asked to do something immoral. If I had children, that attitude would change because I’d be worried about their financial.

    – We spend time praying and contemplating things. The time for this is minimal already; children would make it almost non-existent.

    I’m probably just trying to rationalize my own selfishness– I don’t like children and stress, and don’t think I would enjoy my life with both– but I think the questions are reasonable. Thank you,

  28. Perhaps we might encourage using the slogan ‘Having large families is normal and harmless.’

  29. “There are many cultural reasons we have arrived at this place, among them … the advent of retirement plans (children used to be your social security, since they cared for you in your old age).”
    There’s an irony there, I think. People have fewer children because they don’t need their own children to look after them in old age any more. But having fewer children means that we will all have fewer people to pay the taxes to pay for the social security (in the UK, anyway) and fewer people to look after the elderly in care homes.

  30. Joe, After spending 6 years in counseling at my local Catholic Social Service, I learned an important lesson and that was/is “trust your gut’. DON’T let anyone pressure you into making a decision that, in the end, your heart tells you in wrong. I am the oldest son of a family of six sons in a lower middle class family that struggled financially especially after my dad died in 1973 at the age of 47. I hated the dysfunction and when I had a chance leave for boarding school, I did. I had to work my way through the last 2 years and I had to work my way through college and paralegal school,but I did, unlike 4 of my other siblings. The youngest was able to do as I did. Both of us married, but neither of us had kids, for exactly the same reason, we like stability and order. Children are anything but stable and orderly. THAT has to be imparted by parents and neither of us felt equipped to do that. Are we financially well off? Well, we are comfortable, but certainly NOT rich by any means, nor were we interested in wealth, only in calm orderly, stable lives.
    BTW, my first marriage was to a woman who dad had a good job with the railroad, but he was gone a lot and LIKED it that way. He had children because he was EXPECTED to, but didn’t really like being around them. Add to this his alcoholism and she grew in a very dysfunctional family and this contributed to the break up our marriage.
    As to my nieces and nephews, half of them have had or are having serious problems despite the best efforts my siblings. Indeed the Christian Science monitor published a survey that showed that 40% of all parents said that if knew now what they knew then, they wouldn’t have. had children.
    Visit any chain resturant on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon and you’ll see why.
    Finally, DON’T feel alone because there are many people out there who just as you and I do and there is NOTHING wrong with us. We just aren’t interested in having children for what ever reason.

    1. I’m so sorry that your welcome from your parents wasn’t as loving as it should have been, so deeply sorry. While every person’s suffering is unique, I too look back on my childhood and wish that certain things had been different, so I think I understand where you are coming from. There’s an ache for what might have been that doesn’t completely go away. But, for me, I can say with time and God’s grace He has given me happiness and healing. That suffering is not any longer the primary driving force in my life, but something that I’ve forgiven them for and am at peace about. I guess something that I would think about regarding someone like you or me having children would be that at least my parents did welcome me, perhaps not with perfect love (sometimes not with much love at all), but they did give me life and that’s no small gift! I’m glad I exist! I have a chance to love and be happy in this life and more importantly to go to heaven at the end. What a great gift! And that’s the primary purpose of marriage, the Catholic Church teaches us, to cooperate with God in giving the gift of life, bringing new souls into this world (according to the Church, a marriage isn’t even a marriage if the spouses enter it with a deliberate intent to never bear children). God assures us through Scripture and His Church that children are a blessing, to be welcomed with love. This might be getting a little personal to suggest (please don’t take it the wrong way), but it’s something that’s helped me a lot: Maybe you could pray about it, telling God that this teaching is one that’s hard for you to take, you don’t really understand it and have a hard time applying it to yourself and you certainly don’t feel joyful about it, so you’d like Him to help you. I’ve found when I have prayed like that about various things about Christianity that I didn’t agree with, God has worked some really wonderful changes in my heart that have brought me great happiness.

  31. You may be trusting your gut, Mr. Steele, but not your God. I can see how your childhood experience could lead you toward concerns about parenting, but either you are not Catholic, not married in the Catholic Church, or are in an invalid marriage. (As was your first marriage, if you married in the Catholic faith but had agreed not to have children!)

    You are living out your fears, and it is sad…and the exact focus on self that this article speaks to in the first place. I’m afraid that there IS something very wrong with your heart and soul, but doubt that you have much of a desire to fix this hole in your soul.

  32. “CONCERNS”? Let me tell you something, Pattie, as a 6 year old 1st grader, I watched my mother take in laundry JUST so we could eat. It was 1958 in the middle of one of the worst recessions of the post war era. My dad was selling typewriters at the time. As the oldest child I was privy to many “secrets” my younger siblings weren’t, many times by accident, but in any case, I NEVER forgot what my parents, especially Mum, went through. And yes, it DID deeply affect me. More the response or lack thereof, from our “Catholic” relatives. Even after dad died they disappeared within about a year, just when Mum needed the help. Indeed, the more CATHOLIC they were, the less helpful they were. within a few years, it was as if Mum had never even been married to dad even though their marriage lasted for 25 years AND I got to see a truly great love story the last 14 months while he was dying,something I’ve looked for most of my adult life. 14 years ago, I found it,but that’s another story.
    As to my first marriage, it WAS anulled on those very grounds, however, it was HER words in a deposition that made clear that, while NOT expressly stating that she would not have children, her conditions made it virtually impossible to do so. Plus, she was/is a Protestant and NEVER felt bound by”your rules”. In fact, in the deposition she flat out admitted that she had signed the Catholic marriage application under what she felt was duress(not bothering to mention it to me). She figured once we were married, the issue would settle itself. It did and she left. I later learned that she married a MUCH older man(18 years) with money. They are still married and childless. She got what she wanted, a father and economic security.
    Am I living out my fears. You bet. You get burned enough times, as I have and you get very self protective. Its prevented me from doing economically stupid things.
    Something wrong with me? Well, I’ve been hearing that since I was a left handed first grader in Catholic school in 1958.
    I still go to Mass, but I take the Churches teaching on sexuality with a LARGE GRAIN OF SALT>

    1. I should have read further before replying up above, didn’t see that you’d posted down here, or I’d have put my response here. Again, so very sorry that you had to go through all of that and that even your extended family treated you so shamefully. God bless you.

  33. It is a good time for being a dog…our local gym has a giving tree, one of the ones that you pull a tag for and then bring back a gift. Only it is for dogs instead of the needy. So sad.

  34. Sadly, many Protestant denominations will not take a stand against contraception. In fact, the denomination I was raised in apparently saw contraception as a non-issue because I never once heard a sermon or lesson about it, nor were children presented as blessings from the Lord. It was never mentioned except to say that it was up to the couple to make such decisions. Parents were quick to put their teenage daughters on birth control pills, to prevent the “embarrassment” of an unwed pregnancy. No wonder the mainstream Protestant denominations are dying out.

  35. I’m skeptical of seeing the past thru gauzy, rose-tinted lenses. If the Church and people were so good in 1950, then how did everything collapse so easily?

    On children, of course they were seen as blessings in farming environments given they were a big economic help. Less so these days although admittedly economics shouldn’t be the focus. My point is that those days of big families were mostly holdouts of a rural culture in which the cost of raising a child was most certainly not a bazillion dollars, as it is today in an urban, higher education based society.

    1. I don’t think anyone has the glasses on you describe. But we did have some things in place then that we do not have now. People got married and stayed married. Most children were raised with two parents. But the 1950s were not perfect, more racist, a generation of spoiled rotten kids were also being raised who threw the revolution. The big families were not just rural. We had them here in the city too.

  36. Msgr Pope, What an excellent article. There are so many good points here I cannot enumerate all of them. Thank you.

    I would like to mention that there are many things in today’s culture that make having children far more difficult than in times past that you didn’t mention. So in case you are unaware of them:

    1) Wealth has shifted from young to old; we currently have the greatest transfer of wealth from parents to old people in recorded history. Young people having children today must negotiate college and family, and housing and education, both striking large families hardest, are far, far more expensive today than in prior times.

    2) Add to this seatbelt laws, risk of being accused or reported for child abuse or negligence for merely having a less-than-perfect family, along with the social expectation that children “deserve” their own room and good clothing…it’s much more tricky and unsafe being a parent today than in the past.

    3) Men are no longer the heads of their households. Men are discriminated against in nearly every aspect of society (women get the scholarships, the advantages, etc.; women now make up most of college students). Yet men are then expected to provide the money of courtship plus support the large family? Over time, this takes a toll and men drop out.

    4) Marriage and children have become dangerous for men; his wife can divorce him without cause and then use the power of the State to steal his paycheck. She can even send him to jail if he can’t make the money he used to earn to support the kids. Heck, just yelling at a woman can get a man arrested in his own home. Any rational man should fear marriage and children based upon the law today.

    I would note that throughout all four of these cultural changes of the last 50 years the Church has been basically silent (except to reliably bash deadbeat dads every Father’s Day). Not everyone is a a saint, and as culture and laws change, the families at the margins are destroyed. The Church reaps what she sows here. Expect much, much smaller and broken families in the future among Catholics, and it will be well earned (look to Mormons for an example of how church can support families in these tragic times).

    PS: I’m happily married (Gen-X Catholic), have a large family (double digits), and am well off financially. My comments are not sour grapes; I merely relate what I observe. And again, your article is excellent as far as it goes. It’s a breath of fresh air.

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