A few weeks ago, in the course of my visits for the fundraising campaign, I called upon a family who had been members of our parish for many years. My girls, who had come along because Darwin was working that night, ran around outside and climbed the playscape as I admired the back yard. The woman mentioned that they'd been thinking of taking down the playscape, as all her children were too old to use it. As she'd said earlier that her oldest had just gotten married, I remarked that perhaps she would have grandchildren soon who might enjoy it.
"No," she said, "they don't want children. They're planning to travel. I don't need grandchildren anyway -- I've waited this long for my kids to grow up!"
It occurs to me that something has broken down on a very basic level of catechesis when a woman who has been Catholic all her life and is an active member of her parish feels free to make that kind of statement to someone visiting on behalf of the diocese.
There are several issues with this statement.
1) "They don't want children." Having just been married recently, the young couple must have gone through marriage prep in the past months. Did the priest ask them if they would willing accept children? Did they lie to him about their intentions?
2) When a couple (or a member of one of their families) is so willing to state glibly that they're not planning to have children, it's most likely that they're planning to use birth control to effect this state. Again, how effective was their recent marriage prep? Did they take NFP classes? Worse, did they take the classes and ignore them?
3) Tossing off a statement like that to me assumes several things: that she doesn't have a problem with her own child deciding not to have children in order to travel; that she doesn't think I would have a problem with a couple deciding not to have children; that there's nothing inconsistent with mentioning that a Catholic couple plans not to have children in the context of a visit from a Catholic for a Catholic cause.
On the other hand, I guess we can assume that the couple won't be passing on their views...