OK. Today, this happened. I fired up Google and entered the following search: "pope breed like rabbits".
I must admit, that after I typed this phrase, I reflected that this was surely as unlikely a search as I could ever have imagined myself typing. Then I reflected that it would certainly yield many relevant results. And it did.
Do we need a better sign that we are through the looking glass?
The man who prefers the term Bishop of Rome humbly took some time out of his busy schedule to scold another group of Catholics: this time, parents of large families.
Good for him, I say! These people who hold all the power and wealth in the world need to be taken down a peg. They are, on the one hand, mere animals who can't control themselves. Yet on the other hand, they are proud intellects who tempt God's providence. Worst of all, they eat all the food, drink all the water, and spew all the carbon the Holy Father will warn us about in his rumored upcoming encyclical. You can't even find a cool 12- or 15- passenger maxivan to take you from the airport to your hotel anymore. That's right, these self-righteous jerks have scooped them all up.
What did His Holiness actually say? According to the New York Times, after affirming that "openness to life is a condition of the sacrament of matrimony":
At the same time, however, he said it's not true that to be a good Catholic "you have to be like rabbits." On the contrary, he said "responsible parenthood" requires that couples regulate the births of their children, as church teaching allows. He cited the case of a woman he met who was pregnant with her eighth child after seven Cesarean sections.
"That is an irresponsibility!" he said. The woman might argue that she should trust in God. "But God gives you methods to be responsible," he said.
Forget the fact that the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church just threw large families under the bus. Think about two aspects of his particular example of "irresponsibility".
1) The woman he holds up for derision has sacrificed and suffered for the cause of life, and as a witness to love and hope in an evil world. You don't know why she is pregnant. Maybe her "responsible efforts" have failed. Do you know this, Holy Father? How? Certainly one prays he has not heard about it in the confessional and thought it good nightclub fodder. And what if she and her husband desired another child? The risks of such a desire are a matter for prayer, consultation with each other and their confessor, and are no other human being's business. No one is forced to take that risk, but the Pope's remarks eliminate any credit for the intent of a somewhat heroic sacrifice.
2) More importantly, for the wider Church, the Pope appears to set the teachings of Casti Connubii and Humanae Vitae on their heads. Note he does not say that couples are allowed to regulate births, as those encyclicals say is possible for serious reasons. No, he says they are required to regulate births! In the name of responsible parenthood.
Excuse me, but this is appalling. God help us.
But maybe I'm taking this too seriously. It was just a press conference. I'm sure the Pope has already forgotten about it. Today's news cycle has troubles enough of its own.
You doubt me? Well, in another statement that failed to trigger his irony meter, the Pope had this to say:
“Woe to those who give scandal!” Francis said, quoting Jesus’ words. We give scandal, said the Pope, when we fail to bear witness to what we believe, whereas “a faith proclaimed is a life of witness.”
“When a church-going Christian does not live well, he gives scandal,” the Pope said. “How many times have we heard: ‘I don’t go to church; it is better to be honest at home than be like so-and-so who goes to church and then does such and such.’” Scandal destroys, he said, “it destroys the faith!”
“That is why Jesus speaks so strongly,” Francis continued, ‘Watch yourselves!’ And we do well to repeat this today: ‘Watch yourselves!’ All of us are capable of giving scandal.”
Thank you! Good night!
If you want more, Steve Skojec has great commentary on the rabbit breeding fracas at OnePeter5. I'm off to confess the sin of irresponsible parenthood.
Is that mortal or venial?