Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Ratzinger on the End of Europe

Last year then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote an article called "If Europe Hates Itself" for Communion and Liberation. Here's a key quote:
There is a strange lack of desire for a future. Children, who are the future, are seen as a threat for the present; the idea is that they take something away from our life. They are not felt as a hope, but rather as a limitation of the present. We are forced to make comparisons with the Roman Empire at the time of its decline: it still worked as a great historical framework, but in practice it was already living off those who would dissolve it, since it had no more vital energy.

One of the subjects I've been wrestling with for a while is what the desire not to have children (on the part of individual couples and society as a whole) means in re why people think we are here on this earth. Biologically speaking, the only reason we exist is to have offspring which in turn survive long enough to produce offspring. Personally and spiritually, there is clearly much more to the human person than evolutionary reproductive success. There are circumstances when a person quite rightly chooses that marriage and childbearing are not his or he personal vocation. Nor is the personhood or worth of those unable to have children diminished.

Yet personally opting not to have children despite living in the married state simply because one does not want them seems to involve a redefinition of the human person, and not a good one. I'm not there yet, but Ratzinger's article is definitely good food for thought.


Anonymous said...

My son and his wife don't have children because my daughter-in-law says "I have so much more to do with my life than just be a breeder". What do they do that is so important? Well, she shops and my son plays video games. Oh,l and they have dogs. I usually don't post anonymously but this time...

Myron said...

If I am ever married, I think I will adopt. I want to take someone, or maybe many people, who would not be properly cared for and give them the care a child deserves. And also, I genuinely think there are too many people on the planet. This isn't an "I want to live my life" type of argument. What I'm saying is that we are out of balance with nature. We have found ways to increase the number of human beings the planet can support temporarily, but with the lifestyles we lead and the number of people leading them, we are (selfishly, in my view) destroying nature which is the basis of life for future generations in order to have many children with lavish lifestyles now.

The idea that "liberals" or "secular people" not having children is done out of a selfish desire for personal autonomy isn't always correct. Sometimes it's done because we have a choice: see the destruction that overpopulation causes, and choose to reduce this burden, or have that choice taken away from us when we run out of resources and natural limits are imposed on us, with horribly negative consequences for us all.

Why don't Catholics and the other religious adopt large families, rather than having large numbers of pregnancies? There are a lot of children out there who could use a good home, and you can still follow your natural nurturing instincts, making the world a better place.

Abu Daoud said...

Good point, but how many children raised in religious households later leave and become liberal secular folks?