Dear Mr Bergoglio,
I don’t know why I continue with these missives as your loyal staff filter them all out of the in-tray before they reach you. However…I just had to comment on the following…..
An Irish acquaintance tipped me off that you had made this public statement about childlessness a while back, and I’d like to belatedly respond to it now. (I don’t monitor your doings closely, I’ve got better things to do.) You said that this is a “greedy generation”, and that couples who choose to be childfree are being “selfish”.
- Maybe this was a dig at your chosen new home: Italy has had a falling birth rate for decades, did one of their politicians make it worth your while to come out with this guilt-inducing statement in a desperate effort to get more babies in the land?
- If kids are such a joy, how come you’ve never had any?
- When I studied population levels at Oxford long ago, the Roman Catholics were notorious for twisting the evidence to “prove” that the world’s exploding population was not outstripping resources, as everybody else believed. They were a classic case of how religious people who’ve made up their minds about an issue in advance, select their “evidence” to “prove” a point, rather than basing their positions upon the evidence available. Many liberals at that time thought that one way to help prevent overpopulation was … not to have children oneself. This was the responsible option. This was my view at the time too. The RCs on the other hand banned contraception and abortion and bred like rabbits. World starvation? Blame the pope! “Just look at the starving catholic masses of Latin America” went our horrified mantra. (In practice, western catholics used condoms and the pill just like everybody else, thus undermining the authority of the papacy.)
- Producing kids requires no skill whatsoever. Choosing to be childfree on the other hand – ‘Every child a wanted child’ – requires skill and self control.
- In UK left wing circles, I’ve occasionally heard it said that having a family is a self-indulgent luxury: “These are revolutionary times, comrade, are you ready to man the barricades in the struggle to smash capitalism? There’s no time for raising kids now!”
- What about those who foster or adopt children who are not their own, but never have any of their own?
- What about couples who are childless through no fault of their own, who may be sterile, or who both carry negative genetic traits like sickle cell anaemia, where there’s a high chance of producing a child that will die young or have a lifelong disability. A decision not to have a child in such a case is a very selfless one, but will their catholic priest still condemn them before he learns the facts? Are you giving a lead in this, Mr B?
Bye for now, enjoy your summer break up in the cool mountains at Castelgondolfo.
Peter Turner, Zingcreed.