Maybe, at some future date, when I'm not filled with hormones and deprived of enough sleep to look at these things from all angles I will again start pouring over every Catholic news source I come across again (oh and time, that would involve having time too). Until then though it's best that I, for the most part, avoid all reports, both secular and Catholic, on what he said this time, when he had a few hours in a plane and was surrounded by a bunch of reporters ready to pen their next story.
The story of the week though, which is being summed by secular news sources as "Pope tells Catholics to Stop Breeding like Rabbits" was impossible to ignore without completely cutting of my internet connection. It was everywhere. My friends were talking about it, posting links, debating it across social media... and my curiosity got the better of me when I saw that he'd talked about a woman having too many C-sections.
I have to admit that my first reaction, upon reading the remarks was entirely selfish.
Oh great. I couldn't help but think. Here we go. If I'm ever blessed enough to announce another pregnancy I'm going to hear comments of the "Don't you know the Pope said you don't have to breed like rabbits any more" variety along with the regular "Don't you know what causes that?" zingers.
Paul made a comment about how remarks about the number of C-sections wouldn't be all that different from what we've already heard. "After all, remember that time when (family member's name redacted for their privacy... or something...) told you at your cousin's wedding that your uterus was going to fall. out. of. your. body. if you had four?" (We'd only had two at that point. Mae was a couple months old.). That comment didn't make me feel all that much better... although I did chuckle a bit at the absurdity of the memory.
Someone, somewhere pointed out that those sorts of comments are a great opportunity to evangelize, but I'll admit, all I really think when I hear that is, "I know that I get some of my best evangelizing done when my kids are in the checkout line at the grocery store and a complete stranger says something rude to me about my sex life, while one toddler is trying to pilfer candy off of the candy rack while another child is on the verge of a complete meltdown because groceries have taken far too long and I won't let her eat a banana until we've paid for it, and the baby is starting to fuss because he desperately needs to nurse."
I saw a lot of posts that reminded me that what he said "was technically right" and that "the likelihood that it's going to be used as ammunition against large families for ever and ever and ever is less the fault of the Pope than it is of the fallen world that we live in" (totally true, but cold comfort) but even reading through the transcript didn't help me shake the terrible sadness I felt from everything that I was reading.
I read this article on First Things and thought it summed up one of my worries really well. And Taylor Marshall's take was one of the most interesting things I read all day.
I don't want to give the wrong impression. I think that the Pope is an amazing man. I think that he's a good man. I just sometimes wish that his words were a little less easy to fire at Catholics trying to live the faith like live ammunition.
We live in an age when we're used to almost instant information and sometimes we think we need to absorb all this information that is so easily accessible, just waiting at our finger tips. But really, when that information is being twisted and jumbled and when it begins to steal our peace... it may be time to prayerfully turn away and make a deal with yourself that goes something like "if it makes it into an encyclical, I'll read it... but off the cuff remarks are just too confusing to take in."
Although I'm kind of glad that I at least read a few pieces on this most recent interview... so that I know where the shots are coming from if someday I am expecting again and someone tells me we really don't need to have any more because, haven't you heard, the Pope says you don't have to be like rabbits anymore.
Thank you, it's so good to see that some other people are horrified by the comment (due to the way many will interpret it). I am another sleep deprived autism mama expecting my 5th and couldn't wake myself up enough to find anyone shocked about it. Although I have been fortunate to have not had c sections, I worry that people will judge all large families especially those who are called to have more children when they are very dependant on God's providence. Sometimes God's plan does not match our own or societies but who are we to refuse it.ReplyDelete
I love your last sentence (and entire comment, but the last sentence especially struck me as beautiful!)! Congratulations on your 5th!Delete
When I first began reading comments I was somewhat relieved that I wasn't the only one who questioned the prudence of saying those specific words in a room full of reporters. So I can totally relate to being somewhat comforted by not being alone in how the transcript made me feel.
Sigh, yeah, I find this Pope's tendency to chat in a relaxed fashion with the press as if they were a class of Jesuit students very tiresome. The press, unlike his students, do not have the understanding of the Faith to get his jokes and his comments in the proper context. In short, they are ignorant and that leaves the Pope open to being misunderstood even if the reporters were trying to get it right. I think he is a holy and good man, and orthodox, but he sure leaves us open to a lot of flack with his jocular style.ReplyDelete
I think that's really accurate Ann. And it makes such an easy, appealing story for the reporters sitting there ready to spread their take on it across the world!Delete
Given the near heroic virtue it takes for Catholic families these days to actually practice the faith regarding birth control and children, the last thing anything any of them needs is support for the opposition coming from the Pope himself. But please don't let it get you down. You and other families follow Christ, and not the Pope. I know it makes it harder not to have support, especially from the Pope. But it doesn't change that what you are doing is the way God intended. You know that. But brace yourself for the day when the attack against your faith will come from within the Church. You must decide now to stand firm, knowing Christ's teaching, regardless of persecution. This IS the cross.ReplyDelete
I too read articles about the Pope from arms length, so to speak. I agree with Ann's take on it (above) and so really just sort of do an internal eye roll and wait for the dust to settle without reading almost anything about what he said. I don't take it too much to heart.
Yes, it'd be great if our head pastor was in support of us when we make a choice to follow Christ given the society's opposition, but if he is not, we still can hold firm to our faith. Most saints weren't Popes and found themselves in opposition to one. So. Be at peace.
Your children are beautiful, and I hope you continue to have as many as God will give you.
Thanks Bee (and I totally just wrote a whole comment and blogger just ate it).Delete
Sadie totally is already lobbying for another baby. Preferably one with two x chromosomes. And she's been asking me if not daily, weekly, if we're expecting again yet. Which at least has me laughing!
Your explanation is very beautiful, even if we disagree. Thank you. And just to give encouragement to those who may feel down in reading the headlines, here is what Pope Francis said on the Feast of the Holy Family less than a month ago to an Italian association of large families about the importance of large families:ReplyDelete
“In a world often marked by egoism, a large family is a school of solidarity and of mission that’s of benefit to the entire society."
And, at risk of offending people with smaller families,
“Every family is a cell of society, but large families are richer and more vital cells.”
I just had a thought that we moms of broods could memorize that last line and if anyone tries to use Francis' words against us, we can quote that last line back to them and ask them if they want to know who said it? ;)
Thank you Leila. And I might have to memorize it just for those moments!Delete
Well said, Cammie. I determined to stay out of the fray until I felt and heard the hurting from the women in my life, both the infertile and the super-fertile. I'm kind of drawing the not-so-incredibly-intellectual conclusion that the Pope is being a bit of a dull boy on this. He simply doesn't have a wife to council him in the finer points of tact and grace. ;)ReplyDelete
Thank you Melody. And I so enjoyed your latest post last night. I found one of the most disturbing things in the conversations I was having yesterday was that it sometimes felt like when I said, "Oh, I can see why you'd say that... I hadn't looked at it that way..." the response was something along the lines of "It's so obvious... I don't see how you could have missed that as the initial premise..." which completely killed any desire to have to continue the conversation further. After that I was just done with it... and reading your post really summed up what I was feeling and thinking after going through all those debates!Delete
People forget some of the most Catholic people out there don't breed at all. I'm thinking about nuns and priests, and the Pope himself.ReplyDelete
Oh, and BTW, not having a meltdown *is* winning the day.
Definitely! So much depends on our vocations and what we're called to!Delete
And surviving the grocery store when we all go together certainly does feel like a prize worthy task some days, LOL! :)
I was treating myself to a birthday dinner Saturday, and seated on the bar-stools next to me were two young children, whose pregnant mom held her baby nearby. The restaurant offered a free birthday dessert, and I gave the two canolis to the young boys. The mom thanked me more than once, and said: "That'll keep them occupied til they call our number." And when it was, they left, at which point the woman 3 stools down said to me: "Whew! Does she have a handful!" I had to calmly ---- sip a bit of wine first, then --- tell her about what REAL blessings she and her children were.ReplyDelete
Cammie, more and more people do not even know what families are, much less value them. Your husband should take a job at the Thomas More Law Society in Ann Arbor, then you could join my parish, where 5 kids has been called "a starter family." And those families which fill an entire pew are considered highly blessed.
I would have loved to hear that conversation! And I would definitely be thrilled if Paul were every offered a job with the Thomas More Law Society (he's one of the patron saints of our little home school! It would be the perfect fit)!Delete