1. The Pope kicked over a hornet's nest this week when he spoke off the cuff about issues of sex and marriage. The Internet exploded with interpretations of what exactly he meant and why he said it. I'm not sure I'm going to add any new insight to the conversation, but I can't stop myself from writing about it because this issue is one so relevant to my life.
Here's an excerpt from the entire translated interview:
That example I mentioned shortly before about that woman who was expecting her eighth child and already had seven who were born with cesareans. That is a an irresponsibility. That woman might say 'no, I trust in God.’ But, look, God gives you means to be responsible. Some think that -- excuse the language -- that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this. You did well to ask me this.
2. The pope calls to task a woman who is expecting her eight child and will undergo her eighth c-section when the baby is born. When I read his example, I imagined this woman coming to Francis about the serious medical risk she will face when it's time for the c-section. I pictured her crying out of concern for her family should something happen to her and I pictured Francis speaking with her at length, encouraging her to use prudence when discerning whether or not to add to her family.
But all of this is my educated guess...
In using this example, Francis has information we don't, information which make this woman's situation--I think--pertinent to the discussion of discernment and prudence.
Some are offended by the use of such a specific example, but I think it's relevant to what it is to be a responsible parent. Not all women who have multiple c-sections are warned by their doctors about the danger repeat procedures imposes, but some are. Those whose doctors express concern about more kids, should heed the doctor's warning and discern carefully whether or not to have more children.
The health of the mother and whether or not she will be able to care for her kids is nothing to snub our noses at.
Since Francis is a former pastor, my guess is this is not the first time he has seen an orthodox Catholic family, who has embraced the church's teachings on family planning, be imprudent with regard to their decision to have more kids. The lack of prudence is not limited to a woman warned by her doctors that having multiple c-sections is dangerous. Hang around in the groups I do and very quickly you might observe a wife and husband who might adopt a "throw caution to the wind because we trust God" mentality, even though they are clearly struggling to keep their heads above water.
Instead of following the proper steps of discernment, these types of couples are really just making poor decisions.
To be honest, at various points in our own marriage, John and I have been the imprudent parents Francis is talking about! We haven't always carefully evaluated whether or not we were up to the task of welcoming additional children into the mix. We haven't always discerned well our ability to emotionally and psychologically care for more kids, even though we behaved like we were OK with more.
That's not to say we aren't happy about our "unplanned" children; I'd be lost without each one of my kids.
What I am saying is that at various points in time, I haven't been jumping up and down when I saw the lines turn blue on a pregnancy test because...I behaved imprudently and didn't discern properly.