Last month I noted the surprise that rumbled through MSNBC when Pope Francis, in an homily in the Philippines, declared that homosexual marriage was a danger to the institution of marriage and to families:
At a rally for families in the country’s capital of Manila, the popular pontiff spoke of an “ideological colonization that we have to be careful about that is trying to destroy the family,” the pope said through a translator. Many people understood his remarks as a reference to same-sex marriage.
“The family is threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life,” Francis said at a Mass in Manila. “These realities are increasingly under attack from powerful forces, which threaten to disfigure God’s plan for creation.”
That the Pope would oppose homosexual marriage would only surprise morons, but MSNBC was stunned. Now it has happened again:
There’s no need to read between the lines of the latest comment hurled from the Vatican. Pope Francis called childless couples “selfish” Wednesday while speaking to his usual audience at St. Peter’s Square.
“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 pope said. “The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished.”
His address went on to talk about the joy of children and their role in society, weeks after he seemed to send a contradictory message telling Catholics they don’t need to breed like rabbits.
Sad to say this may even surprised the grotesquely un-catechized Catholics in the US and Europe but this is basic theology.
The starting point is that you have a vocation. Specifically, as a Catholic you have four options: married life, single life, religious life, and ordained life. At this point it is important to note that three of those vocations involve not having sex. So if you are not called to ordination or religious life and you are opposed to children, then you can’t be called to married life. If you are living with someone out of wedlock, you may or may not be called to married life but you certainly aren’t called to live as you are. Not to put too fine a point on it, in order to be married as a Catholic you have an obligation to have children. From the Catechism
By its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory.
Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves. God himself said: “It is not good that man should be alone,” and “from the beginning [he] made them male and female”; wishing to associate them in a special way in his own creative work, God blessed man and woman with the words: “Be fruitful and multiply.” Hence, true married love and the whole structure of family life which results from it, without diminishment of the other ends of marriage, are directed to disposing the spouses to cooperate valiantly with the love of the Creator and Savior, who through them will increase and enrich his family from day to day.
Called to give life, spouses share in the creative power and fatherhood of God.154 “Married couples should regard it as their proper mission to transmit human life and to educate their children; they should realize that they are thereby cooperating with the love of God the Creator and are, in a certain sense, its interpreters. They will fulfill this duty with a sense of human and Christian responsibility.”155
How serious is this? Because prior to marriage both partners have to state they are open to haveing children, it is grounds for an annulment of the marriage as fraudulent:
Maybe one spouse was married before and not free to marry again. Or one was grossly immature, under age, under grave fear or pressure to marry (shotgun weddings), severely addicted, or refused to remain open to the gift of children. These are areas where the union can’t reflect the free, total, faithful, fruitful love of the Bridegroom for His Bride and therefore can not be “sacramental”
What Pope Francis is saying is pretty simple. The primary purpose of marriage is children. If you get married with no intent of having children then you are actually failing to live up to your vows.
Now that the Pope is speaking as a Catholic, not as a Pope who the secular world thought was going to get rid of those nasty old rules, he’s being accused of hypocrisy. Some are doing it because he isn’t married (see the discussion of vocation) and others because he said Catholics shouldn’t “breed like rabbits.” How, they ask, can the Pope oppose contraception (he reiterated the Church’s opposition in the Philippines) and tell Catholics not to have too many children. Again, it is simple, Catholics believe (at least those who aren’t the “smells and bells” Catholics that show up on Christmas and Easter) that our humanity, our Free Will, is what distinguishes us from beasts. We don’t have to mindlessly rut simply because we can.
Why is anyone surprised that the Pope is saying what any religious education teacher or catechist is saying? Because the secular world has long since thrown off the idea of truth. When an society can hear someone talk about “my truth” and not laugh in their face we are already more than halfway to perdition. The unguarded statements of the Pope were seized upon by the secular world that the Catholic Church was going to get with the times. That homosexual marriage, the ordination of women, the marginalization of marriage were all going to happen in short order. Now it is slowly sinking in that no matter the Pope’s political leanings he is a very orthodox and traditional Catholic.