20 January 2015

These Are the Jokes, Kid

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?


Long-Skirts said...


The Bishop of Rome
He lives not at home
I’m sorry
I have to say

He’s here and he’s there
He’s up in the air
Flying this
And that way

He gets on the phone
Waits for dial tone
To comfort a man
In his sins

But mothers of seven
Who put faith in Heaven
“Don’t breed like a rabbit”
He grins

And how the boys chuckle
And how the girls laugh
And gender-benders
Can trust this man’s staff

But only the mothers,
The big family breed,
Deserve condescension…
From this Bishop’s clichéd creed.

Jack said...

Not scolding large families. Just telling those of us who've exercised a little self-control that we're not bad

Anonymous said...

So I guess I have been mistaken these years seeing as I always have, my family of only two children as the heaviest of crosses that I must bear and offer up? In his world my sorrows hold no value.

He has shot an arrow in my very heart.

Mrs. M.

Chantgirl said...

I think I may be suffering from Pope Francis Stress Disorder.

Hootiecootie said...

As a mother, I would give my very life for any of them. Including accepting life if it meant mine would be sacrificed.

I was hoping his words were taken out of context. I'm still reeling from the absurdity of it all.

I wish I had more children. They are a dear blessing even amidst the extreme challenges of raising them in this world we live in.

God please grant your mercy and wisdom upon all of us.

Lapin Tartare said...

he said it's not true that to be a good Catholic "you have to be like rabbits."

The point of view that good Catholics have big families and bad Catholics don't is prevalent in some circles. I have heard it with my own ears.

Anonymous said...

I always like to read the comments on an article posted by the mainstream media after another Pope Francis statement to get a feel for what people are thinking. The most reoccurring comments I see are "I am not catholic but I like this pope" or "I'm an athiest but I like this pope". At the same time the faithful Catholics do not know how to process it. I continue to hope that somehow the Pope is reaching those who are not Catholic in some way that they will find their way to the church. Unfortunately so far I just see mass confusion and further division.

thetimman said...

Jack and Rabbit, the coarseness of the expression, by itself, is enough to deplore. His comments are not to caution against judging the infertile. It is to adopt the notion that Jack states as fact which is merely his own rationalization: those without large families have self control, those with large families are irresponsible.

I know no one who would judge why someone has this or that many children. We can't assume selfishness; that's wrong. If anything, assume the opposite: infertility. A very heavy cross indeed. Or assume that the couple has sufficient reasons to avoid. That is the best way, yes?

However, those who do contracept or choose to avoid pregnancy without a legitimate cause sure reap the benefits of the world's approval. Makes it easier to take, no doubt. But calling that self control is inaccurate.

thetimman said...

Matt, I did not post your comment, but wanted to explain. It is not for any criticsm of me, which you are free to repost. I thought that the contents of the conversation you related in the first part were not appropriate to publish. Too much like mere gossip, and not necessary for any point you wanted to make.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

Christophe said...

Compare and contrast: a few years ago, I met Cardinal Burke at a reception, and told him I had nine children. His response? "Have another." He didn't scold me for being irresponsible, or call me a rabbit. He knew another life would be a blessing. Who is the true shepherd?

Anonymous said...

Refreshing to read these words from Pope Pius XII to the Directors and Representatives of the Associations for Large Families: http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=5370.

"But God also visits large families with His Providence, and parents, especially those who are poor, give clear testimony to this by resting all their trust in Him when human efforts are not enough."


Anonymous said...

I'm really shocked to notice the huge difference between the magisterium of Francis and that of Saint John Paul II!
But he's a true Pope or an Antipope?

TradDadof4 said...

Best poem-ever Long Skirts. Houston, we have a Papacy crisis!
Also note the way that the Pope acted like they were 18 different ways to do moral family planning. Almost as easy as taking one down off the shelf and trying it on for size. In *Catholic* moral theology, the methods are hard and few, the mental disposition needed, harder and fewer.