BY JULIA MELONI, MARCH 13, 2017
In 1873, a saint who professed herself “madly fond of children,” who “desire[d] to give many elect souls to Heaven,” gave birth to her ninth child—St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Today, the bishop presiding over the Vatican’s “Biological Extinction” workshop explains that with “education” we “don’t have children. We don’t have seven children. Maybe we have one [or] two children. No more.”
Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo was responding to invitee John Bongaarts, a sort of “living analogue of Margaret Sanger.” Bongaarts lamented the “unmet need for contraception” and the “obstacle” of “moral … acceptability” and sub-Saharan African women’s desire for five children each despite the violated earth. Bishop Sorondo, who has accused Vatican critics of being financed by oil companies, assured Bongaarts that “we don’t know exactly what is the doctrine of the Church” about “fecundity,” only “some part” of it.
Peter Raven claimed papal support for only having children “you can bring up properly” because “we need at some point to have a limited number of people.” Population controllers Partha Dasgupta and Paul Ehrlich recommended “taxes and regulations” to rectify “failures” in “reproduction” because we’ve “befoul[ed]” the “atmosphere” in this “Sixth Great Extinction.”
Ehrlich, who has spread forced abortion and forced sterilization with the shoddy science of a “charlatan,” recently boasted of the workshop’s “essentially complete agreement” on overpopulation’s perils, adding: “Everyone was aware of the view, which I share with all of my colleagues (including many Catholics), that contraception should be available to all.”
In 1895, Thomas Hardy’s novel Jude the Obscure prophesied the nightmarish consequences of spreading Malthusian doom. Imagine a child nicknamed Little Father Time because he is “preternaturally old” in mind. He hears his father’s mistress admit it would “almost” be “better to be out [of] the world” because of “adversity” and asks, “Then if children make so much trouble, why do people have ’em?”
Thinking he “ought not to be born,” he “bitterly” rebukes her for expecting another baby. “I think,” he says, “that whenever children be born that are not wanted they should be killed directly.”
So he hangs himself and his two half-siblings, childishly misspelling his apologia: “Done because we are too menny.” His father hauntingly muses that Little Father Time embodies the new children of the age, spawned by ideology:
The Doctor says there are such boys springing up amongst us—boys of a sort unknown in the last generation—the outcome of new views of life. They seem to see all its terrors before they are old enough to have staying power to resist them. He says it is the beginning of the coming universal wish not to live.
A child who kills because of “new views of life,” because of a “coming universal wish not to live”—a chilling augury of a culture of death that grooms the young for, among other things, abortion in the name of “sustainable development.”
A recent pro-life report urges us to “resist” the “alignment” between Church authorities and this international anti-life agenda. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, approved by “Pope Francis and other organs of the Holy See,” require “universal access” to abortion and contraception and related “education”—proliferating initiatives “to gain direct access to children,” whether through pro-abortion youth clubs or radical “comprehensive sexuality education” for children aged “0 – 4” and above. The Vatican’s own 2015 workshop on using children as environmentalist “agents of change” said schools must “absorb” the SDGs.
So the recent extinction workshop, says Riccardo Cascioli, “signal[s] another important step towards the penetration of the Church by the neo-Malthusians whose end goal is support, via public policies, for birth control.” In the symposium’s schemas, Robert Royal notes, “God and Jesus are absent,” supplanted by a “religion of international scientific management of our race.”
“We saw a lot of that in the twentieth century,” writes Royal. “It produced mounds of corpses.”
So “the war against family and innocent human life is a spiritual war” that “is now also taking place within the walls of the Church herself,” says Anca-Maria Cernea. The Church “has contributed to the secularization described by Pope Benedict XVI” by promoting the “buildup” of hostile global “power structures”; its “earthly ideologically-contaminated activism” has empowered the anti-life, anti-family cultural Marxists fabricating a “perfect world” for us.
And so the Church struggles with the third temptation of Christ, the temptation to “all the kingdoms of the world,” the proposition described by Ven. Fulton Sheen in the talk “The Power of the Devil in the World Today”:
Theology is politics. Forget your God; forget sin; forget guilt; forget holiness; do the political things. And this will be the temptation to the Church in the next two hundred years—the third temptation of Christ.
In Hope for the World, Cardinal Burke exhorts us to nothing less than Christ’s reply in the desert—the command to worship God alone. Cardinal Burke says we must “return to … metaphysics,” must “rediscover” the Church’s “theocentric vision,” must remember that “God alone is the goal of our quest, and everything must lead to him.”
So Cardinal Burke reminds us of “the meaning of family life” from God’s transcendent perspective. He reminds us that “the procreation and education of children are the crown of marital love”—relating, in touching accounts of his childhood on a family dairy farm, the goodness of having many siblings and devout parents who nurture love for the Holy Mass, the Eucharist, Confession, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Blessed Virgin.
Cardinal Burke recommends the spirituality of St. Thérèse’s parents, Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin, saying, “Every morning I pray to them for my family.” The books The Mother of the Little Flower and The Story of a Family beautifully document their parental generosity. At each child’s birth, St. Zélie prayed, “Lord, grant me the grace that this child may be consecrated to you, and that nothing may tarnish the purity of its soul.” At the baptism of their first child, St. Louis beamed: “It is the first time that you have seen me here for a baptism, but it will not be the last!”
St. Zélie soon prayed, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception, for another child, who was born nine months afterward. Later, her little daughters asked St. Joseph every night for a brother who would be “her priest,” “her missionary.” Her “little Joseph” died in infancy but became, St. Zélie wrote, a heavenly intercessor for one of his ill sisters. Exactly nine months after a novena to St. Joseph, another “dear little Joseph” arrived, though he, too, soon died.
After eight children—including four “little angels” in Heaven—St. Zélie gave birth to her “great saint,” Thérèse. The child and her four sisters, all future nuns, learned to pray and “please the dear Jesus” and “make small sacrifices to him,” as St. Thérèse’s sister Celine recounts. Their mother, who soon died from breast cancer, once promised the “sacrifice of [her] life,” if necessary, to form all her children into saints. She said of her deceased little ones:
I did not regret the pain and cares I had borne for them. Several people said to me, ‘It would have been better if you had never had them,’ but I could not endure this sort of language. I did not think that the sufferings and anxieties could be weighted in the same scale with the eternal happiness of my children with God.
But if St. Zélie “wished to have many [children] in order to bring them up for Heaven,” today’s Vatican endorses anti-life UN goals and hosts a pro-abortion population controller who has sneered that letting women “have as many babies” as they want is like letting “everybody … throw as much of their garbage into their neighbor’s backyard as they want.”
The extinction workshop exhorts “nothing less than a reordering of our priorities based on a moral revolution,” for “the extinction of such a major proportion of the life that supports us will probably be the sin for which our descendants will be least likely to forgive us.”
The third temptation of Christ—theology is politics. Forget God, sin, guilt, and holiness; pursue all these kingdoms.
Julia Meloni writes from the Pacific Northwest. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English from Yale and a master’s degree in English from Harvard.