By Timothy Villareal
Discussing the Catholic Church’s prohibition on artificial contraception and its promotion of Natural Family Planning (NFP) on his return flight from the Phillipines, Pope Francis told reporters, “Some people think — excuse me for saying this — that to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits.”
Well, I have an extended Catholic family, some from small families and others from large – meaning 6 to 10 children. Having grown up with these families, I can say this definitively: the love, happiness and functionality of those familes is directly related to the hearts of their moms and dads, not the size of the family, or their bank accounts.
Sadly, it is abundantly clear at this point that this is a pope who obviously feels entitled to dicker around with real people’s lives and families.
Here in Florida, for example, in the wake of Florida becoming the 36th state to uphold same-sex marriage equality, the Catholic Bishop of St. Petersberg, Robert Lynch, recently penned a compassionate op-ed in the Tampa Bay Times, in which he reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s traditional teaching on marriage, and then added:
“However, together with Pope Francis and in light of the discussions at the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family held in Rome, I also recognize that the reality of the family today, in all its complexities, presents the church with pastoral challenges as the church strives to accept people in the specific circumstances of their lives and support and encourage them in their search for God and their desire to be members of the church.
Therefore, I do not wish to lend our voice to notions which might suggest that same-sex couples are a threat incapable of sharing relationships marked by love and holiness and, thus, incapable of contributing to the edification of both the church and the wider society.
In the midst of changing societal definitions and understandings of marriage, there may no doubt be some confusion. However, with patience and humility, our church must continuously strive to discover what the spirit is saying and respond to the Synod Fathers’ suggestion to discern what pastoral response faithful to church teaching and marked by respect and sensitivity might be appropriate for same-sex couples…”
Clearly, with those words, Bishop Lynch was extending a welcoming hand to same-sex couples – something he believed Pope Francis gave him a green light to do. Yet I shudder to think how same-sex parented families, whom Pope Francis has now suggested are part of the “colonization of the family” will be adversely impacted by such warm Catholic church invitations, having moved from the designation of people with “special gifts to offer the church” to outside “colonizers of the family” within the span of two months. No matter how you slice it, none of the pope’s commentary have any coherence.
The jukebox nature of Pope Francis’ commentary on so many crucial matters – put in a quarter and he will play whatever a listener(s) wants to hear at that given moment – but especially the jukebox nature of his commentary on human sexuality and family life, has led me to conclude that he is not a man that anyone should look to for moral guidance, Catholic or not.
Now, in addition to having insulted loving, holy same-sex parents who provide loving, caring homes for their children, Pope Francis has now done the same with traditional large Catholic families; mothers and fathers who have large families not because they’re afraid some diocesan chancery official is going to knock on their door to check out their sex lives, but because their hearts were designed for child-nurturing, and called to bring those children into this world.
As a counterweight to the insults hurled by Pope Francis to so many families all over the world, be they same-sex parented or opposite-sex parented families, I’d like to share the two videos below. The first is from the ACLU about the case of Martin Gill: the openly gay Florida father of two adopted boys who succesfully challenged Florida’s gay adoption ban in 2010. The second is the video of Dolly Parton’s classic song, “Coat of Many Colors.” My favorte line from the song: “Although we had no money, I was rich as I could be, in my coat of many colors that my Mama made for me.” Dolly Parton, of course, was one of twelve children, and the point of the song is that while they were poor in money, her parents were abundantly rich in love. Just as Mary and Joseph were to Jesus.
Thank God for Martin Gill, Dolly Parton, and the millions and billions of men, women and children all over the world who truly understand that it is love that makes a real family, not a plaque from a pope, nor from his apologists and yes-men in the media who seem to put more hope in him than they do in God.
UPDATE: Predictably, the day after Pope Francis offered his offensive “breeding like rabbits” remarks, he dialed back, singing the praises of large families. One wonders if St. Peter ever had a rapid response damage control team?
Timothy Villareal is a Miami-based writer.
A yummie piece!