ARE CATHOLIC FAMILIES IN THE UNITED STATES AND FIRST WORLD COUNTRIES TOO SMALL?
ARE CATHOLIC FAMILIES IN THE UNITED STATES AND FIRST WORLD COUNTRIES TOO SMALL?
Yes. Most of them are too small. That is because most of them do not understand God’s plan for life, love, marriage, family and children. Not only have the majority rebelled against God’s plan by embracing contraception and sterilization, they have done so thinking that they are doing the best thing for their families, their society, their country and the world. The culture has invaded the Church. Hence, the people of God are taught by the culture and live by the culture, rather than live by God’s plan as taught by the Magisterium of the Church. The culture is full of deceptions. God’s plan is the complete loving truth. The Magisterium proclaims that truth. Often, it has difficulty finding people who will listen.
First and foremost, God’s plan is a call for generosity in procreation. “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28) is the first commandment in the Bible. So, we have two parents. Let’s see…One times two (parents) equals two (children) and does not represent any growth whatsoever because the parents die, leaving just two. Two times two (parents) equals four children and is a modest beginning at multiplication. Three times two equals six…four times two equals eight (children). This is simple multiplication – right? By now the culture goes hysterical with its false accusations of over-burdening the family, irresponsible parenthood, placing burdens on society and overpopulating the world.
The truth is that God never once warned about overburdening the family with children. Nor did He ever warn about overpopulation. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) says, “Sacred scripture and the Church’s traditional practice see in large families a sign of God’s blessing and the parents’ generosity.” CCC 2373.
Generosity in procreation is one of the fundamental values of God’s plan. He is generous. He wants us to be generous and responsible. What is responsibility? Pope Paul VI provides the best definition in his famous encyclical on human life (Humanae Vitae): “In relation to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised, either by the deliberate and generous decision to raise a numerous family, or by the decision, made for grave motives and with due respect for the moral law, to avoid for the time being, or even for an indeterminate period, a new birth.”
Notice that the first component of responsible parenthood is generosity! The second component is willfully restraining the procreative urges when there are compelling reasons to do so. This is a fully balanced definition of responsible parenthood.
God’s call for generosity in procreation is fully consistent with his desire for us to enjoy economic prosperity. In Deuteronomy 10, Moses is addressing the Israelites after their long sojourn in the desert after leaving Egypt. “The Lord, your God, has so multiplied you that you are now as numerous as the stars in the sky. May the Lord, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand times over, and bless you as he promised!” How many people is Moses talking about? Well, we know, because in the Book of Numbers, they took a census – twice. There were about 600,000 men. They wanted to know how many men were available for military service. So, to keep things simple, let’s double that figure to 1.2 million to account for the men and women. Moses prays that God will increase them a 1000 times over. One thousand times 1.2 million is 1.2 billion. It was no problem for Moses. It’s no problem for God. Today there are less than 5 million people in Israel.
Large populations lead directly to prosperity because there is more labor at work creating a larger number and variety of goods and services. This leads us into the number one concern that Catholics have about large families – economics. So, to deal with this issue, we must depart from theology and study a little economics. The culture teaches that large families are economically harmful and lead to poverty – not just poverty of the family but poverty of society. God teaches that large families lead to prosperity. Who is right?
Before one can understand poverty, one needs to understand the conditions that lead to prosperity. I define prosperity as the abundance of food, shelter and clothing – not cars and yachts. There are three fundamental things that are required for prosperity. Can you guess what they are? You will not find the answers in most economic books. Some people say “education.” No, many ancient civilizations had no education as we think of it and they prospered. Some people say “natural resources.” No, Japan and Hong Kong hardly have any. The number one requirement for prosperity is healed human beings – human beings healed by the Spirit of God so that they stop killing each other and stop stealing from each other. Such human beings will cooperate in generating economic activity. When the North American Indians cooperated, they prospered. When they became engaged in war, they disintegrated.
The second requirement for prosperity is free markets. Markets must be free for the exchange of goods and services at a fair price. They must not be dominated by the government, by crime syndicates or by false religions. To remain free of crime syndicates, they must be refereed. The third requirement for prosperity is a large population. The prosperity of the U.S. is a direct result of its large population – third in the world. China’s population is 1.3 billion and China is now the “world’s factory” on its way to becoming a superpower. India is overcoming the rampant bribery and corruption that held it down for centuries.
Now that we have a fundamental understanding of what causes prosperity, what are the leading causes of poverty? Number one is war. Number two is lack of chastity. Lack of chastity destroys the family, the fundamental economic building block. Greed and many other causes of poverty follow behind. Children do not cause poverty!
The high fertility and generous immigration policy that brought us the prosperity, that we enjoy today, has changed. The fertility rate in the U.S., which was around 5.0 prior to 1950, is now below replacement rate. The replacement rate is 2.1 children per woman. In the U.S., the figure is 1.99. Immigration is filling some of the void but we are already seeing shortages of labor, inability to meet military recruitment targets and inability to support retirement funds. We are committing demographic suicide.
This brings us back to the first question. Are Catholic families too small? If Catholic families were as large as God planned them to be for the past 35 years, and if they were faithful to Gospel values, this is what may have happened. Catholics would be over 50% of the U.S. population today, a democratic majority. A democratic majority of faithful, sensible and responsible Catholics may have brought a quicker end to the scourge of abortion and the fiscal irresponsibility of the Social Security crisis. A chaste Church may have recognized the disaster of the clergy sexual abuse crisis before it mushroomed. As it was, an unchaste Church created an unchaste environment suitable for abusers to proceed un-noticed. What is an unchaste Church? It is a Church that practices contraception, sterilization, divorce and many other sins of impurity. We can be sure of this: When Christ returns, his chastened bride will not be an unchaste Church. Realizing this truth, we should all beg the Lord for the graces needed to do our part to turn the situation around and we should work diligently to re-build a culture of life, first within the Church and then within the world.
Brian is married with five grown children. He is the founder and Chairman of God’s Plan For Life (www.godsplanforlife.org) and CFO and Chairman of a business that he founded with his wife.