In a recent Vatican sermon, Pope Francis chastised childless couples for pursuing personal happiness and showering affection on their pets. (“Pope Francis: Criticizing childless couples,” The Week, June 20, 2014, pg. 17.) I had to smile because his remarks seemed to imply that having a child made people unhappy. I’m sure that isn’t what he meant but all in all, his comments struck me as odd, coming from the head of a church that demands celibacy of its servants.
Perhaps it’s time to remind ourselves that marriage and having children were forbidden by the early church. Before the 16th century no marriage sacrament existed. People weren’t to be thinking about life on earth because Christ’s return was imminent. As for children, they weren’t welcomed at all. Pope Gregory the Great wrote that “babies are born as the damned fruit of the lust of their parents.” (Man Made God by Barbara G. Walker, Stellar House Publishing pgs. 202-203.)
I am in no position to explain contradictions in theology but I do wonder how the devout can accept both Papal judgments without suffering a modest confusion. Further, if failing to marry and have children is behavior to be excoriated, then how is one to explain the life Christ? He lived as a man on this earth and did neither.
I know nothing of God, but I confess I find the religions of the world a great puzzlement.