Recently Pope Francis announced that “the choice to not have children is selfish.”
Far be it from me to disagree with the Infallible One, but I’m afraid he’s got things just a bit wrong.
In truth, a very good percentage of those who have chosen to release their spawn into the world have done so to ensure that a little piece of them will carry on even after they’re gone. Um . . . a little self-centred, no? Others feel their life philosophies (or genes) are just so super-duper, humankind needs more of them, so they spew out smaller versions of themselves to help spread the word (or the DNA). Again, you’ve got to think pretty highly of yourself to assume humankind needs more of you in it.
Others, of course, have children without having actually “chosen” to do so. Instead they chose not to take two seconds to roll on a condom and now the rest of us are paying for that choice. And we’re the selfish ones, Francis?
He also condemned a “greedy generation” that doesn’t surround itself with children and considers them a worry or a risk. Okay, now, hold up there, Holy Father. Have you looked around recently? Everywhere I go, I’m surrounded by children (particularly on the No. 43 into the City Centre). Without a single one passing through my birth canal, I still can’t get away from kids. And while I’m not saying no one should ever reproduce, kids can be a worry and a risk. They could get poorly or caught up in the dangers that seem to lurk behind every corner or they could vote Tory or support Man United. These are real concerns, good sir, and to pretend they don’t matter is unfair.
Lastly, he said, that life “is enriched, not impoverished” by children. I know he was speaking metaphorically, but it’s expensive to have a kid, especially if you plan to kit it out in a way that will keep other ‘unselfish’ people’s kids from bullying it on the schoolyard. Children are notorious bank breakers, and we mustn’t pretend they’re not.
While I take umbrage with the practicalities of some his points, I’m not unaware that ultimately Pope Francis wants people to get it on to help create more people for God, saying a child is “a life created by us but destined for Him.” I’m going to leave that one alone as its target audience is probably not the same as mine. However, this is also the man who criticised some large families’ “irresponsibility,” clarifying that “some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. But no.”
As popes go, Francis seems to be one of the best. And I know his timing probably wasn’t coincidental; what with all the condom adverts thrusting their Valentine’s Day specialties our way this week, he probably just wanted to put in a good word for shagging without protection.
But it’s not really fair to criticise people who choose not to contribute to overpopulation. They all have their reasons — some might be sensible (they aren’t in a position to properly care for a baby), some might seem a little less so (they were chosen to be God’s representative on earth), but the decision must be theirs.
And lots of childless people still see children as gifts to the world. That’s why they care for them in hospitals or schools or work to keep them safe in the community. It seems to me that the best guidance should be about looking after children, rather than just encouraging people to squeeze them out willy-nilly.
That’s why whenever I push a kid over in the street, I always stop to help them back up. Being kind — it’s a selfless act and the most important message of all.