April 02, 2007

Married Childfree Catholic

Do you remember the Pope voicing his concern about growing numbers of childfree by choice adults? In the blogosphere, there was plenty of coverage on childfree blogs. We are child-free, we are not really Purple; we're invisible until we get identified as a threat, whether it's at a cocktail party or by the head of an institution.

The bigger religious news of the day was the step closer towards sainthood of Pope John Paul II. Even in death he shows us the higher path. According to Pope Benedict XVI, if married couples don’t have kids we are “selfish”. Ahhhhhh! There’s that word that is so liberally applied to married couples who are childfree. I wonder what he thinks of infertile couples? Something to do with, um, Satan?

Why is the church so concerned? What is their stance on the environment? Do you think humans in Europe will really become extinct? Or, just the Catholic ones? Not much chance of that with the big
merger that is poised to happen. That’s the big church news this week. The proposal for the 78 millions Anglicans, the church of England, to reunite with the one billion strong Catholic Church. That would make up for a lot of childless Catholic couples, eh?

The childfree choice threatens institutions – the church for example. It rocks the status quo, shifts their base of support. I am not saying that childfree people are not Catholic. My point is that if the numbers of children raised as Catholic diminish, the church’s power is diminished. In other institutions, it’s not the hearts and minds of the people they want, but their wallets.

I think I would be more drawn to the faith of my ancenstors if Rome were a bastion of tolerance, and a little more earth-friendly. If the Pope is so concerned with having more Catholics, perhaps he should allow priests to marry and let women into the priesthood. I am sure that if two priests marry, the union would automatically produce a saint. Genius!

Chilfree News blog did a nice treatment on this topic here.

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Strawberry Muffin said...

I'm a Catholic childfree, and my guess is that the Pope's opposition comes from the fact that childfree couples stay that way by contraception, and you know the Church's stance on that. I don't believe in allowing married priests or women priests because I like our traditions the way they are. And yeah, being Catholic childfree means disobeying the Vatican, but the credo of lay Catholics (especially us young ones) is, well, rules were made to be broken. :)
Good post!

Joel said...

What the Roman Catholic Church teaches and what I believe is taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church. "Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the perrson enter-appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and the will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, lead to forming one heart and one soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility. In a word it is a question of the normal characteristics of all natural conjugal love, but with a new significance which not only purifies and strengthens them, but raises them to the extent of making them the expression of specifically Christian values."

I do not think the selfishness is in not producing offspring, but in not being open to it, because without that openness it is not possible to give oneself over totally as we are called to do in conjugal love. The love we make becomes, at least in part, a self serving and ultimately dehumanizing and violent act towards the one in which the love is shared.

Just for your information, Margaret Sanger (founder of Planned Parenthood) developed her ideas about birth control in an effort to commit genocide. She dispised the black population of New York and thought birth control and sterilization was the "Final Solution" to the issue. Don't take my word on it though. Read her writings for yourself. She was not shy in her disdain or her plans. Hitler read it. That is exactly where he developed his own ideas for the "Final Solution" to what ailed him.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Muffin - You're my kinda Catholic -- the thinking kind.

Joel - You start out sounding pretty reasonable. Then you drop the "normal" word and expect us to all agree on what normal is. You lost me after that buddy, but thanks for weighing in and keeping it clean. The whole "love becomes violent" part is a bit scary and I don't get it. But frankly, that's off the topic of this blog.

I will delete any comments (gifts or no) that go off topic or get mean or too scary, just for the record.

Which brings me to wonder why you are reading this blog? You sound like you missed your calling to be a priest. You certainly like to read a lot.

Joel said...

Sorry if I sopke out of turn. My intention is not to be contentous, just to defend the Church that is held so close to my heart. It does not bother me in the least whether or not you hold the same views that I do. I stumbled to this blog quite by accident and found the blog too complelling to leave without at least a little defense for traditional Romans.

And finally, I find it flattering that you think I am "priest material." Thank you for the compliment. You are also a perfect model for "saint material" and have a nice day.

Strawberry Muffin said...

joel- You've much more manners than most of the people who write dissenting comments on childfree blogs. :)

AthenaMarina said...

I would like to add something.
Not everyone grows up to permanently adopt the religious/spiritual/humanistic beliefs of their parents!
I for e.g. was raised by
Christian parents but am now a
combination of New Thought and
witch with some other stuff
thrown in. But I am definately
an EX Christian.
I know there are others who
grow up to adopt a
different belief system of their
parents. It works both ways,
I am sure there are plenty of
atheistic parents whose children
grew up to be religious. In
fact, I know someone well
whose parents are atheists and
she became Muslim (of her own
free will.)
Point being in all this, I don't totally get this whole "let's get parents to have more babies cos then they will be of the same religion thing" Yes, many times this happens but there's no
Also, personally I find it strange how some Catholic and some other Christians don't like NON Catholics or Christians using birth control - do they assume THEIR children will grow up to be Catholic/Christian? Again
there is no guarantee.
I can understand how from a
biblical perspective or
Catholic perspective the no
contraception thing can be but
find it funny how couples who are
not married often say OK no contraception but they
rationalise it's OK to have sex outside of marriage!
I'M not saying it's not, but that's what their churches often say.

Coffeine said...

I am a Catholic who has made the choice to be childfree because I know myself, I can't work the role of motherhood into my self-concept, physically, psychologically or spiritually. And I have, with an open mind, tried but to no avail. I am happy spending my free time using the gifts and talents God has given me. I volunteer time and give donations. In my heart of hearts I know I was put here to do more than procreate. Why would the innate nature which God has bestowed upon me (as individual as it is) be considered wrong and sinful? How can a gut feeling that I cannot control be imminently damning? Why wouldn't the exercise of the free will (which was given to us by God) be viewed as a blessing in a response to what our heart tells us is meant for us? I am more than the effects of my biology. Thanks for recognizing the childfree and addressing the problems of the stigma.

Anonymous said...

Coffeine -- I couldn't have put it better myself.

Thank you for this comment.

WordWench said...

Thank you so much for this blog! I can't believe I have found it.
I am 39 years old, Catholic and single. I am also a woman who since the age of 18 has known that I did not want children. This is simply because I have never desired to have them and also because I know I am not parent material. I do not have the patience to go through all of the daily things that raising children involves. And I simply have never desired to be a mother. This in no way means I am not a caring person...I feel I can show my nurturing and caring side through the extensive volunteer work I do with the blind and at a local food bank, and the care I give to animals. I also live with my elderly father and help him out (I am an only child, mother deceased.) As a Catholic who has remained single (just haven't found right man) I find myself feeling increasingly alienated in my local church and also in the church at large because of this overwhelming idea that only those who procreate are "in the right."
I value so much the woman's comment about free will. If God had meant me to be a mother, wouldn't He have given me that natural desire? Instead, God I feel gave me the discernment from an early age to know what I was NOT meant to do as well as what I was meant to do. I feel it would be TRULY selfish of me to marry and have children just because I felt it was what I was supposed to do, rather than what I truly desired. I am so glad there are others out there voicing this because I really feel lately like there is no place for me in my Church. Thank you.

coffeine said...

An update and shout-out to teri and wordwench. I recently, after 29 years and my last post, parted ways with the Catholic Church, as it was getting in the way of my relationship with God. It was the hardest thing I have ever done, but I know it was the right thing to do. The dogma, politics and female-repressiveness just became too much. Especially when, in an effort to find some sort of counsel, I approached several priests, including my parish priest, with my "childfree by choice" stance, questioning the free will and internal conscience in the eyes of the Church and God. Apparently, in the eyes of the Church, those reasons --internal conscience, knowing yourself -- are not good enough. One priest said that he doubted the validity of my marriage in the Church, because I married knowing I might not want children and he even suggested annulment. I had the "Be fruitful and multiply" line tossed out at me on several occasions, with no one viewing it as a possible blessing rather than a command to breed. I left the Church and its man-obsessed dogma and took God with me. I have never felt closer to the Holy Spirit and able to focus fully on God in my own way. God and the Church are two entirely different entities from one another, moving in two different directions. In my parting ways from the Church, I too, have just started a childfree, recovering Catholic blog at http://craftingtheschism.blogspot.com/
Thank you, Purple Women, for leading the charge and putting this topic up for discussion. God Bless!

rockysmom said...

Why should anyone have to explain such a thing! It's nobody else's business if you are Catholic OR childless. If you are living from your heart you are doing what is right for you automatically. As someone who used to be Catholic and has been without children all of her 54 years, I have never felt any regret for being who I am and doing what is inside me to do, and no one knows what that is but me. Living from your true heart will never harm yourself or anyone else. We honestly don't have the right to judge what is "right" for someone else. Just live and let live, Catholic, or childless, or whatever. It is truly none of anyone else's business, and it doesn't really matter.

Sohan said...

Yeah, but you are only obliged to be "open to [offspring]" if you have sex. Specifically, it is the sex act which should be kept open to life. If you choose to not have sex at all, though, you are not doing anything wrong in being childless.

Anonymous said...

God gave people the ability to choose their path in life, right?

If that's the case, why do so many churches want to control the thoughts and actions of billions of people?

Why is it anyone's business if someone doesn't want kids? Perhaps the Pope needs tithe money from members to build more churches and maintain Vatican City's old buildings :)

If churches were more focused on helping people and getting along with others instead of trying to expand it's numbers and bring in cash from members, perhaps people who be less skeptical of organized religion.