Many are familiar with an item from one of the closing documents of the Second Vatican Council which gave a shout out to the feminine genius. Having praised women for their tremendous gifts and skills, it prophetically noted that they would be called upon in this generation to save mankind from falling. It was a heavy thought written with the utmost confidence in the particular talents of the “fairer sex,” realizing that their fidelity to the call of God would be critical in the coming years. Sadly, many missed the memo.
This Economic Crisis Will Be Shared Suffering
Presently, the world has discovered an interconnectedness that it didn’t bank on. The market woes of the West are now so intermingled that few will avoid the fallout of the present economic death spiral. While the Holy Father has commented that it may be a call to material simplicity and detachment, the leader of the American House of Representatives has added a twist: It’s time to simplify our lives, and fewer children are the key to stabilizing the markets. Never mind that the West is already facing a failure to reproduce itself and that Japan has frantically signaled to its own citizens that more children are the only hope, children cost money that we don’t have. With this myopic logic, it is argued that if we don’t waste resources on kids, we will free up essential dollars to … evidently, spend elsewhere.
Drudge has kindly made available transcripts from a weekend show, where the “Catholic” grandmother of five introduces her unique “time out.”
STEPHANOPOULOS: Hundreds of millions of dollars to expand family planning services. How is that stimulus?
PELOSI: Well, the family planning services reduce cost. They reduce cost. The states are in terrible fiscal budget crises now and part of what we do for children’s health, education and some of those elements are to help the states meet their financial needs. One of those — one of the initiatives you mentioned, the contraception, will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So no apologies for that?
PELOSI: No apologies. No. we have to deal with the consequences of the downturn in our economy.
Short-sightedly, she neglects to factor in the myriad problems we’ll face later, say in five or six years when these non-existing children would have started school. We’ll need fewer teachers, bus drivers and pediatricians. We’ll need fewer garment workers for the clothes, toy factories for the sundries, and food from the farmers. Then, lo, in about twenty years, the market will face a larger implosion when fewer people will exist to seek jobs. Ultimately, the elderly — who depend on subsequent generations to work responsibly and pay into the retirement funds (and even work at the nursing homes) — will suffer the inevitable neglect, leading to the dark possibility of moving them along prematurely to their Eternal Reward for lack of resources — human and financial.
In this view of the economy, the market takes priority over families — over the actual people for whom it exists. People, already conveniently reduced to consumers and even commodities themselves, are redefined as burdens — expense items marked for waste reduction. The added irony is the widely-touted presidential appeal to usher in “a new age of responsibility,” which shows all the signs of being a new age of absorption in “all me — right now!” with little care given to the future of the country.
The Hidden Power of Prayer and Witness
For those not called to interact in the public square, it may well be a time to stand down from the political fray and to remember our call to be leaven. It takes mere cursory glances at government policy to discern the troubling trends, to guide prayers, and to try to reassess the motives of those so obstinately at war with the Church.
Last week, while commemorating the tragic judicial fiat that equated “choice” with infanticide, the new president offered these troubling words:
“On this anniversary, we must also recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights and opportunities as our sons: the chance to attain a world-class education; to have fulfilling careers in any industry; to be treated fairly and paid equally for their work; and to have no limits on their dreams. That is what I want for women everywhere.”
He promotes the fallacy that the lives of women must be identical to the lives of men (highlighting pregnancy as the key differentiating factor) as well as the shallow view that children have the unfortunate habit of ruining the lives of those to whom they are entrusted. It is degrading to think that dreams must prevail over children, but it is merely another way of stating Mrs. Pelosi’s view — that children will short-circuit the nation’s well-being.
In an age of real responsibility, men who honored women wouldn’t lead them into behavior that might lead to a “crisis,” and women who trusted women would remind them of options that bring out a creative response to unexpected blessings. It is for us to make the case that motherhood doesn’t destroy dreams — it enhances them, vivifies them, enriches them and fulfills them, in ways we cannot imagine.
We now face the prospect that all three branches of the American government are poised to wage war on the next generation. The courts have denied their personhood, the congress seems incapable of seeing even their practical worth, and the president has framed the discussion as a zero-sum choice: prosperity or children.
Those Closing Documents Were Correct
The response is entrusted to women — who will now make the case for motherhood, for sacrifice and for authentic responsibility. This truth can be spread person-to-person, in humble settings, using traditional methods of communications. The arrogant will be brought down in God’s time if we collaborate in spreading the good news. The lowly shall be lifted up, love will work its wonders and the simple joys of family life will find root.
The key is to speak out consistently with charity, fidelity and trust. In the words of Saint Pio, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry!” There may be darker times ahead, but Christ is ever with us, reminding us to keep our little lamps lit.