Monday, February 16, 2015

Of children and choice

I dig Pope Francis. I think he’s the best pope since … well, ever. And he’s not just progressive for a pope; he’s high on that chart for any world leader.

But occasionally, he says things that remind me that he is the head of the Catholic Church, for which a line must be toed. Saying all couples must have kids is definitely a Catholic train of thought.

For everything it else it stands for, the Catholic religion is one dedicated to populating the planet. Perhaps the mandate to reproduce (and all the no-nos rooted in undermining it that keep teenage boys forever on their toes) made sense in a long-bygone era where conception was difficult and we needed more people to function — but in this era of overpopulation and rampant poverty, it’s irresponsible to sire a child solely out of social or spiritual obligation.

Couples who choose not to have children aren’t selfish. Far from it, in fact. Why should they be castigated by the pope, or by anyone else, for not making a choice on which their heart isn’t set? And who’s to say the opposite choice is never selfish?

Raising a child is a serious and life-changing duty. It’s not for everyone. It’s not even for everyone who has children. A neglected child is a burden on society as a whole, never mind the toll it takes on the kid itself. By contrast, the absence of a theoretical child harms only abstract and outdated dogma.

All children should be wanted and loved. Every last one.

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