Clueless: Pope Francis, a celibate man without children, tells an audience at St. Peter’s Square that choosing not to have children is “selfish.”
The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished.
A society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society.
It’s bad enough Francis attacks those who choose not to have children while he himself has no children, but he also implies the current generation is “greedy” while he sits in an opulent palace filled with priceless art and treasure. Meanwhile children around the world go hungry.
In his remarks, Francis also praised the 1968 encyclical of Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae, which reiterated the ban against artificial contraception, and in so doing implicitly rejecting any notion of science-based family planning.
This is not the first time Francis has attacked people who choose not to have children. Last year Francis said that those who had pets but not children will face a tragic old age, suggesting that choosing not to have children leads to bitterness and loneliness:
It might be better, more comfortable, to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or is this not? Have you seen it? Then, in the end, this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.
On a more positive note, Francis said:
You love your child because he is a child, not because he is beautiful, healthy, and good; not because he thinks like me, or embodies my desires. A child is a child: a life created by us but destined for him.
Now this statement reflects genuine wisdom. However, Francis should recognize that some do not want, or simply lack the emotional and cognitive maturity, to offer a child that kind of love. We should applaud people for thinking long and hard about deciding to have children, even if they decide that parenthood is not the best option for their situation.
Under no circumstance should people be shamed into having children.
Lately Pope Francis has been a big disappointment, and something of a moral failure. Last week Pope Francis endorsed corporeal punishment, a form of child abuse, making the perverse claim that parents hitting children is “beautiful” as long as the act of violence against a child is done with “dignity.”
Perhaps even more disturbing, last month, commenting on the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Pope Francis declared “one cannot make fun of faith” and that anyone who throws insults can expect a “punch,” offering a tacit justification for terror and violence in response to a cartoon making fun of religious superstition.
Ideally, parenthood should be a planned, well thought-out decision. Having children simply because some imaginary god or religious authority commands it, is never a good idea.
Children deserve better.