Author’s Note: A copy of this letter is being mailed to the Vatican; I plan to post any response I receive.
Dear Pope Francis,
Last month, you called Catholics to “responsible parenthood,” reminding us that we need not breed “like rabbits” in order to be good Catholics. I am a young Catholic woman, married and raising a child. I was glad to hear the Church acknowledge that humans can – and must – enter parenthood with great intention and care! This gift of forethought is what sets humans apart from animals. A rabbit in the woods does not stop to consider when might be the best time to have a litter of kits, or whether there might be adequate food and shelter for them when they arrive; the rabbit’s body simply knows that it is breeding season, and breeds. Humans have the capacity to consider our decisions, using our reason and conscience, and we have a responsibility to do so. We are called to be fruitful and multiply, not simply to multiply!
You followed this call to responsible parenthood by affirming the Church’s teaching that Catholic couples should only use “natural” methods of family planning. At this I was dismayed, because these methods do not work for all women. I would know; I am one of them. There are a range of “natural” family planning methods, and I researched them all, in search of one that would suit my body. Unfortunately, I learned that none would work. I’d like to share what I learned with you, Pope Francis, because I know that I am not the only Catholic woman who faces this challenge. Continue reading →
This hit close to home because one of the reasons we debated whether we should get another cat is that we are thinking about having children — and that is such an unknown factor that we wondered if it was really wise to introduce another unknown factor into our lives before then.
Still, the Pope’s “advice” rubbed me the wrong way because, like many of the hierarchy’s proclamations, it is too simplistic, dismissive of the complicated choices people must make about their lives. The decision whether or not to have children is an intensely personal one, and probably has the farthest-reaching consequences of any choice a couple will ever make. This requires deep soul searching, not a rote edict from a man who will never have to lose hours of sleep over a baby’s cries or a teenager’s rebellion; who will never have to make the decision to take the hit to his career for the flexibility parenthood requires; or who will never have to stay in a soul-crushing job because he needs the money to feed his children.
“Children are human beings to whom respect is due, superior to us by reason of their innocence and of the greater possibilities of their future.” – Maria Montessori
I love taking my kids to church. I used to be anxious about disruptions, but I got over that a long time ago. As it turns out, I only get complaints from fellow parishioners when I don’t bring them. My children also remind me from time to time that they are more spiritual than I am.