Prodigies apart, people are born simply to love and to be loved.

I have wondered from time to time whether or not how many prodigies the likes of Bach have been aborted, creative healers such as Salk or poets such as Eliot have been ended before their birth.  Leaving aside the prodigies, how about people simply made in God’s image, made to love and to be loved.

From The Catholic Spirit:

OCTOBER 13, 2011

ARCHBISHOP JOHN C. NIENSTEDT

October has been designated as Respect Life Month. As Pope Benedict XVI has so often reminded us, abortion is a violation of the social justice teaching of the Catholic Church — a lack of justice for the child who is killed; a lack of justice for the society deprived of that child’s contribution.
Here is a real story about a woman who respected life, and her choice made a difference in virtually every one of our lives:
In 1954, Joann Schiebel, a young, unmarried college student, discovered that she was pregnant. At the time, her options were very limited.  She could have had an abortion — but the procedure was both dangerous and illegal.
She could have gotten married, but she wasn’t ready and did not want to interrupt her education. Thus, Joann chose instead to give birth to the baby and put him up for adoption. And so it was that in 1955, a California couple named Paul and Clara Jobs adopted a baby boy, born out of wedlock, that they named Steven.
Yes, this is the same Steve Jobs who died on Oct. 5 from pancreatic cancer. He was, as a reporter from the Washington Post commented, “The brilliant, material co-founder of Apple, who introduced simple, elegantly designed computers for people who were more interested in what technology could do rather than how it was done.”
If you have an iPhone or an iPad or an iPod, or anything remotely resembling these, you can thank Steve Jobs. If you have had an Apple or Macintosh computer in the past, you can thank Steve Jobs.
But at the same time, you can also thank Joann Schiebel for giving the gift of life.
The theme of this year’s Respect Life program is, “I came so that all might have life and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Here, Jesus refers not only to the hope of eternal life, but life in this world as well.
Our culture and even our own government promote policies that are opposed to the true good of individuals and families (see my column of Sept. 15).
The media assist this agenda by promoting a distorted view of sexuality that is “free” of any commitment to the reproductive end of the act of sexual intercourse. In this view, contraceptives are promoted as being essential to a woman’s personal good, and abortion becomes a necessary back-up measure when those same contraceptives fail.
While the number of abortions in the State of Minnesota continues to fall, it has consistently risen at Planned Parenthood, which now performs 35 percent of all abortions in the state.
And, unfortunately, the greatest number of Hispanic abortions has regularly occurred there as well. It has been recorded that 41 percent of abortion clients at Planned Parenthood admitted to using contraceptives at the time of conception (see Prolife Action News, October 2011).  Yet, because of the Minnesota Supreme Court ruling of 1995, taxpayers like you and me continue to pay for elective abortions as well as the availability of contraceptives. [many abortifacients]
Some conscientious and courageous witnesses are making a difference in this area by joining in the 40 Days for Life campaign that began outside of Regions Hospital in St. Paul on Sept. 28 and will continue until Nov. 6. Various church groups will “Adopt-a-Day” to lead prayers and to keep vigil. I will be present for the closing hour of these 40 days on Nov. 6.
Of course, the respect we are called to show human life in the womb is the same respect we are called to show human life outside the womb.
October is also, “Bullying Awareness Month,” a time to remind ourselves and one another of the inherent dignity of each person as a son and daughter of God. We must not tolerate derogatory remarks or physical abuse of persons who are deemed “different from others.”
“Might” does not make “right” and teachers, parents as well as others in authority need to be vigilant to any signs that a young person may be bullied by another or by others.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, “Every human life, from the moment of conception until death, is sacred because the human person has been willed for its own sake in the image and likeness of the living and holy God.”
That applies so appropriately to the person of Steve Jobs, now gone to God. Who could imagine our world today, if he had never been allowed to be born?
God bless you.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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24 Responses to Prodigies apart, people are born simply to love and to be loved.

  1. God bless Nienstedt for speaking the truth plainly! And God bless Fr. Z for framing the discussion with his opening remarks.

    I would like to add a troubling concern to the discussion. Bishop Nienstedt says, quite rightly, that “The media assist this agenda by promoting a distorted view of sexuality that is “free” of any commitment to the reproductive end of the act of sexual intercourse. In this view, contraceptives are promoted as being essential to a woman’s personal good.” Note: “contraceptives are promoted as being essential to a woman’s personal good.” NFP, whose raison d’etre is family planning through natural methods, should be approached with similarly cautious observations: “promoted as being essential to a woman’s personal good.”

    “Birth control” is concerned, essentially, with preventing births or planning births in some manner that permits couples to continue to engage in marital relations. Fr. Z’s opening remarks can apply just as well to births prevented via NFP as births prevented via artificial methods. To those who practice NFP, one can apply Fr. Z’s musings: “I have wondered from time to time whether or not how many prodigies the likes of Bach have been aborted, creative healers such as Salk or poets such as Eliot have been ended before their birth. Leaving aside the prodigies, how about people simply made in God’s image, made to love and to be loved.”

    I’m not intending to suggest a complete moral equivalence between “natural” and “artificial” methods of preventing births, but they are offspring of the same human intention: to exercise control over conception without total recourse to abstinence (which always works). I think it is self-deceptive to read Bishop Nienstedt’s cautionary teaching and, because one uses NFP to prevent births, think “what he says doesn’t apply to me.” On matters of human conception, we tread on very sacred ground when we presume to enter too much into the “divine negotiation.”

  2. I second Terry. How many Catholics are contracepting? The Catholic Church has often stood in the way of societal evils, but in recent decades, we have been lying down on the job. Would Roe v. Wade have been possible in a world where Catholics did not buy the cultural line on contraceptives?

  3. Phillip says:

    I like how the good Archbishop does not neglect to remind us that respect for human life does not end with birth, and that promoting a culture of life means supporting the inherent dignity of the human person from conception to natural death. Murdering a child in the womb is not morally equivalent to bullying, but they are part of the same mentality which seeks to make an individual man powerful over another at the expense of forgetting the victim’s humanity.

    I think that came out right…

    Anyway, good article.

  4. SegoLily says:

    Terry Carroll,

    I can’t help but feel you are being too draconian in your lumping NFP with artificial birth control in any sense. NFP doesn’t thwart God’s will but uses the intellect God gave us to recognize fertile periods and to abstain when a child will potentially result. If God really, really wants a baby conceived, it will be created. Thus, no Steve Jobs are prevented from coming into existance. I suspect most couples who practice NFP are open to God’s will, otherwise they wouldn’t bother with NFP.

    Do I understand you correctly, then, that if fertility is intact, total abstainance is in order if a couple no longer wants to build thier family? Post-menopausal couples should abstain as well?

  5. Margaret says:

    Color me horrified that the first two posts out of the gate take swipes at NFP users. Good heavens.

    Back to what occurred to me when reading the post, before reading the comments… At the other end of the prodigy spectrum lie all of our “missing” (i.e. aborted) handicapped and disabled babies. It breaks the heart to realize how many of them have been snuffed out, “wanted and planned” though they may have been initially, once their imperfections were discovered. All this at a time when our society has more educational and therapeutic helps available for these beautiful kiddos than at any previous point in history.

    One of my children is on the autism spectrum, and it’s only a matter of time before science begins to identify the pertinent autism markers that can be recognized in utero. And then, just like the “dropping” Down Syndrome rate, the “problem” of rising autism rates will just… quietly fade away.

  6. AnAmericanMother says:

    Margaret,
    It doesn’t stop there, as appalling as it is that ‘less than perfect’ children get a death sentence (a friend of mine has a Down’s boy, and he is one of the sweetest, most joyous kids around. Everybody loves him, everybody looks out for him.)
    Where it leads is ‘parents’ in-name-only aborting babies because of relatively simple, correctable physical problems like cleft palate or mild spina bifida. This is happening in Britain right now. (And if somebody ever claims to have found a “gay gene”, you’re going to see some real cognitive dissonance.)
    And I agree that gunning for NFP is hardly the place to start.

  7. priests wife says:

    for Terry Re. NFP-

    I think that most married couples with a decent relationship will always want a new baby- we do (with severe health problems, etc- ‘just’ reasons to space/avoid) wonder, what if? -just like I wonder what our first boy who we lost in utero at 20 weeks would have been like.

    But sometimes it is a matter of ‘can’t we all just get along?’ For faithful Catholics who have prayerfully determined using NFP to space pregnancies would be beneficial (for physical or mental health- or yes, financial health- some people have no money for food or electricity and want to be faithful and not use ABC), it hurts to be equated in any way with abortifacient birth control

  8. PostCatholic says:

    I am willing to give Archbishop Neinstedt the benefit of the doubt that his research was incomplete and he wasn’t being disingenuous when he wrote that Joann Schieble “could have gotten married, but she wasn’t ready and did not want to interrupt her education.”

    The truth is that her father strenuously objected to a marriage to Steve Jobs’ natural father, a fellow student at the University of Wisconsin, a Syrian named Abulfattah Jandali. That conflict is primarily what narrowed Schieble’s options. Her father died later that year and at Scheible did in fact marry Jandali, who’s now a casino executive in Reno. The couple had another child, novelist and professor Mona Simpson, but later divorced. Simpson and Jobs met as adults and developed a close sibling relationship. [An other interesting connection is that Mona Simpson married a writer name “Appel” who used his wife’s name in the creation and writing of “The Simpson’s”. They were not aborted. Thanks be to God.]

  9. KAS says:

    Attacking NFP is wrong because unlike artificial birth control it does not prevent ovulation nor does it kill the conceived child by preventing implantation or simply causing a period to happen and expel the child.

    I’ve a daughter who is about to have my first grandchild. NFP was an attempt by she and her hubby to wait a bit to finish school before starting their family. With NFP the door remained open to life and SAFEGUARDED THAT LIFE. Not on their schedule but on God’s schedule the first grandchild is due in a couple of weeks.

    NFP keeps the door to life open and does NOTHING to kill a conceived human being.
    This makes it a totally different situation than the many artificial birth control options pushed on women in this culture which if they do not prevent an ovulation, prevent sperm from getting to the ovum, and failing that they prevent implantation or cause an implanted child to miscarry–nothing good there!

    I say again, NFP keeps the door to life open and does NOTHING to kill a conceived human being.

  10. My remarks are in response to Fr. Z’s prefatory remarks concerning children never conceived due to intentions and practices against conception and Bishop Nienstedt’s observation that “contraceptives are promoted as being essential to a woman’s personal good.” What is being “promoted as essential to a woman’s personal good” is the ability to control fertility. NFP is not intrinsically disordered or immoral, but artificial methods of contraception are. But ALL methods or practices result in children not conceived. NFP is just as likely to result in children not conceived as any other method employed to reduce or eliminate the prospect of conception. If this is so, then NFP, which does not employ morally objectionable methods of preventing conception (to plan to avoid pregnancy by recourse to the infertile periods is still to plan to avoid and, therefore, “prevent” conception) must be practiced after serious moral reflection.

    It seems, to me, obvious, that NFP is “sold” and most often practiced as “birth control.” When couples are required by their diocese to learn NFP if they plan to marry within the Church, then we have accepted “birth control” as a properly Catholic value which, traditionally, it has not been, and not just because of methods. I think that technology, which makes it possible to identify fertile periods with almost complete certainty, has made it possible to ask new questions that were unthinkable (because impossible) less than a century ago. Church teaching in response to the availability of this new technology should be considered tentative at best, because we don’t have enough experience yet to define and articulate a truly Catholic response that is still consistent with older teachings of the Church.

    I have difficulty imagining the Virgin Mary mentoring young Jewish maidens in “charting,” or the parents of the Little Flower teaching NFP. NFP, as a method of “birth control,” is nothing more than recourse to infertile periods. The intention, however, seems to me virtually indistinguishable from the intentions of those who use more directly reprehensible methods to control conception.

    No matter the method, there are “phantom children” never conceived, so I think we should be a lot more serious in our discussions of “birth control” as a properly Catholic value so long as the method is not objectionable. There are prodigies, saints and plain old “children made in God’s image, made to love and to be loved” that are not born as a consequence of our decisions to avoid conception. The morality of methods matters in discussions of the morality of methods. The morality of “birth control” as such has not been given sufficiently serious attention in all this (IMHO).

  11. I should have read Terry’s post more carefully. It was not my intention to attack NFP. It was my intention to attack the use of contraceptives, and the acceptance of society’s line on contraceptives.

    However, it is my understanding that there needs to be a serious reason for using NFP, lest it morph into “Catholic birth control.”

  12. Margaret says:

    It seems, to me, obvious, that NFP is “sold” and most often practiced as “birth control.”

    Mr. Carroll– it seems to me, obvious, that you have No. Way. Of. Knowing how other (or normally even if other) Catholic couples are using NFP.

    Simcha Fisher wrote a really good piece this past spring entitled “Why doesn’t the Church just make a list?” on her personal blog entitled “I have to sit down.” (Not linking directly to avoid triggering the spam filter.) I thought it was outstanding, and the lengthy comments are worth a read as well. I think we really shouldn’t convene the Catholic circular firing squad to take aim at the miniscule percentage of non-contracepting Catholic couples by impugning their motives.

    And frankly, I found the whole “phantom children” line of thought to be a bit bizarre. Surely couples who total abstinence rather than periodic must also have a host of phantom children, right? As must the couples of a hundred years ago who had no other choice but permanent abstinence when the wife’s health permitted no more babies…

    Fr. Z, I apologize if this is turning into a rabbit hole. I promise not to jump back into this particular discussion unless it directly pertains to Abp. Nienstedt’s comments.

  13. FrAWeidner says:

    Margaret,
    Well said.

    Is it wrong to abstain totally to avoid the conception of children if a couple has prayerfully discerned that the timing isn’t right? Terry knows it isn’t and has said as much. Is it wrong for a couple to have relations if they know that the wife isn’t fertile at that time, e.g., post-menopause? Of course it isn’t. So logically, if the couple has discerned with good and well-formed consciences to use NFP, it isn’t sinful.

    I know there are some sedevacantist folk who would go so far as to say the second premise is wrong, so much so that it doesn’t caricature their position by too much to say that they would support the enforced usage of NFP *only* to have relations during the fertile periods. Many of them would presumably chuck the first premise, too, and say that the total abstainers are living in hell-bent sin for not doing everything they can to have 20 children.

    I believe in life. I believe Catholic couples should have as many children as their finances (not in terms of luxury but rather the avoidance of poverty – they aren’t vowed religious), the spiritual, psychological, and emotional health of their marriage, and God’s plan allows (if that’s 20, great!). However, mainstream Catholics, even SSPX-ers, believe that Pope Paul VI was a validly-elected pope, and he said in an encyclical letter that Catholic couples licitly had recourse to what is now called NFP under those aforementioned prayerfully-discerned circumstances. I would say that to gainsay this is not only engage in possibly mortally sinful judgment on the couples doing so, but perhaps also to place oneself outside the visible Church.

  14. DeaconPaul says:

    I think it’s important to discern between children who never existed and children destroyed within the womb. However marriage, not just sexual intercourse, has to be open to life so it is entirely reasonable to say that it is possible for even NFP to be inappropriate and, in some circumstances, actually sinful.
    For most of our grandparents generation the only form of natural family planning was total abstinence and certainly, here in England, many (mainly no- Catholic) couples of that generation had very small families out of economic motives. As soon as economics becomes a focus of family life then selfishness is an inevitable result.
    I’m a father of 5 children and when I hear talk of abortion and the contraceptive mindset I think “which of my children would I choose not to exist?”. My answer is always “should we have tried for a sixth!”.

  15. Supertradmum says:

    The ancient people knew about spacing babies. The mothers kept nursing at will and this suppresses hormones, which in turn, suppresses conception. We moderns think we invented nature, but cultures from very ancient times knew about spacing babies, even when they had enough to eat, that is, were not starving.

    Women who use NFP are not sinning, unless the intention is wrong, and we cannot judge that, of course. God gave us ways to be sensible about having children. And, as I mentioned, for most women, full-time, at will nursing does the same thing. Our culture forgot such things our great-great Grandmothers knew. If one got married young, one still had time for 12 or 13 babies, half of which, at least in the cities, died of disease. Agricultural families, historically, had big families, and healthy.

    As to aborting the great, I think this is one reason why we have no leadership, no bright sparks, no real creativity either in politics or in the church. Those men (and in the case of politics, women) who would and could have led our governments, led our dioceses, led our marriages, never saw the light of day. We have created a weak society by aborting leaders.

    The great pianist Horowitz told the story of his mother, a Jewish mother in a ghetto, very poor, who, when pregnant with him, number nine, was encouraged by either her mother or mother-in-law to abort. Horowitz’s mother refused. Thank God.

    What is also not mentioned, is that fact that our selfish Generation O is not getting married. This is sinful, as well. Partly, the over-emphasis on long education has created a too long adolescence, for as long as a young person is in “school”, they are still not contributing and in an adolescent stage of receiving, rather than giving. I see all of these flaws of civilization where I am in Malta. I have not met a Catholic mother with more than two children-most have one. I have seen thousands, no exaggeration as at least two very large ships come in everyday and planes, of young men on holiday who are not married, as they are either with other young men, or alone. The entire culture is one of anti-procreation behavior.

  16. Supertradmum says:

    Lycurgus, the great king of Sparta, was made king after the death of his father and older brother. The wife of the older brother was pregnant with the real heir and offered to abort the baby for Lycurgus’ sake. He told her not to, but to give him the baby and he would kill it after it was born. When the newborn was brought into his court, Lycurgus held him up, placed him in a seat of honor and declared him king. This was Charilaus, who when he grew up, chose Lycurgus for his adviser.

    I miss home schooling….there is always something to be found in the classics for all of us.

  17. Re: abortion and adoption, that’s the main topic.

    Re: NFP, are people really going to claim that married adults are never allowed to choose not to have sex? Are you next going to rip on St. Paul for saying that sometimes married people are allowed to pray instead, or on the medieval church for telling people not to have sex during certain fasting times of the year? Maybe some of us really need to butt out of other Catholics’ business, and let their pastors and doctors counsel them on their married lives.

  18. SegoLily says:

    Supertradmum,

    Very interesting thesis that all the great leaders and creative artists are missing because they have been aborted or never been conceived. I’ll have to ruminate on that one. It seems to me that the pool of children still being brought to life would allow for enough creative genes to result in great societal leaders in politics, the arts, the Church, etc. I think leaders are not being made because children haven’t enough siblings to assert leadership and individuality. For many indulged singlets and duos, life is a boring and endless parade of vapid entertainments and technological trinketry. Life with several siblings is rich in many spheres–you can put on plays together, put on “Mass” together ;), play “army” and cowboys and Indians, play spoofs on parents, observe and monitor and call out each other on violation of family “rules”, create new rules within the family, protect younger siblings, etc. It is rich and intense on a daily basis. I think that is why the pool of fabulous talent is withering.

  19. Nicole says:

    “Here is a real story about a woman who respected life, and her choice made a difference in virtually every one of our lives:
    In 1954, Joann Schiebel, a young, unmarried college student, discovered that she was pregnant. At the time, her options were very limited. She could have had an abortion — but the procedure was both dangerous and illegal.
    She could have gotten married, but she wasn’t ready and did not want to interrupt her education. Thus, Joann chose instead to give birth to the baby and put him up for adoption. And so it was that in 1955, a California couple named Paul and Clara Jobs adopted a baby boy, born out of wedlock, that they named Steven.”

    I am really sorry if I sound overly negative, but I am so tired of women who do not take responsibility for their actions being praised whole-sale as if they did the right thing by giving a child up for adoption for frivolous reasons (I’m not saying that Archbishop Nienstedt is doing that, but this whole issue is so proximal to that behavior). I can completely understand giving up a child for grave reasons, such as single father heading off for war, a single mother with a proximate, terminal condition, etc., but not merely to keep from interrupting her education or to give the child a “better” life. There’s a definite purpose in the order of God’s plan in the economy of salvation. Specific children are born to specific parents with the obvious purpose that those children be raised by those parents in the present order. Obviously if the parents die, it was merely part of what God ordained for the life of the child to be raised by another…however, it seems horrifically presumptuous to shirk one’s duty to one’s children by giving them away in order to pursue trivia or for justification of one’s evil actions. Giving up one’s children to pursue frivolity or to justify sin is just as gravely wrong as procuring an abortion, it just doesn’t get you excommunicated…

    There is a terrible epidemic that my family (mostly among those who are unbaptized) is suffering at the moment in regard to illicit sexual relations (i.e., abuse of the marital embrace) and while that is gravely sinful both in regards to nature as well as what has been divinely revealed, for the most part, these members have re-ordered their lives to the care of their ill-gotten children. One of my relatives gave up her eldest son on the fear that it would cause an estrangement from her parents and shame to the family, and now, thirty-five plus years later, it has caused worse than that. I know she regrets it every day.

    “October is also, ‘Bullying Awareness Month,’ a time to remind ourselves and one another of the inherent dignity of each person as a son and daughter of God.”

    As far as each person being a son or daughter of God…I think that the Council of Trent, Session 6 is pretty clear on that in their description of Justification, and that only by Justification does one become a son of God, and therefore an heir. I’m not saying that every human creature does not have an inherent dignity due to being made in the image and likeness of God, merely that those who are suffering the full ravages of the sin of Adam because they are either unbaptized or in a state of mortal sin are not considered children of God (i.e., sons or daughters of God), but rather children of wrath and slaves of Satan. Let’s not scrimp on doctrine…

    In regard to what is called NFP…it’s obvious that the way it’s taught in the parish that I attend, that it is sinful behavior. Here husbands and wives are taught implicitly to hate the fecundity of their spouses and to see it as a hindrance to the Puritanical or Calvinistic life-style (i.e., to be independent from one another, and to work like a dog until retirement at which time your life is taken up by playing with all the riches you’ve amassed, respectively) which they so crave to live. NFP as taught here is a means to thwart nature from rewarding the marital embrace with its natural fruits.

  20. Supertradmum says:

    Nicole,

    Any woman, for whatever reason, who does not abort and puts her baby up for adoption, is to be praised. We cannot judge a moment of sin in anyone and the pain of giving up a baby must be horrible. I applaud Steven Jobs’ Mom. As to the epidemic of vice, I agree, but one case cannot be singled out among the many. And, she was conceiving in a different time.

    As to NFP, I taught this many years ago to Catholics and Anglicans in a very pro-life atmosphere. God gave us physical signs to use for His Glory. Abstinence is marriage is a good and holy thing. In fact, I think that abstaining for periods of time is much more virtuous than constant or regular relations. I am sorry that the teaching in your parish is deficient and possibly, heretical.

    As to having children in general, one of the problems is the lack of the acceptance of a lower-lifestyle and real financial sacrifice. These aspects should be part of NFP teaching, as married people are called to have children and being less than rich is part of the plan of God. Such examples as the parents of Therese, the Little Flower, Doctor of the Church, would be part of my teaching of holy relationships and parenting.

    As to marrying the person one may have had a child with, this is not always a good thing, or even possible. Do not judge the specifics, but be open to the fact that a woman who sins with a man may then realize he would not make a good husband or father. We do not know the details. Haven’t you ever dated someone, even in a good and holy way, for sometime, only to realize that man would have made a poor husband or dad? We women have not been protected and were thrown into the world to find our own spouses, which is a very bad scheme and prone to errors.

  21. Nicole says:

    Supertradmum,

    I do not agree with your first declaration. I would agree with the statement that any woman who chooses not to abort her child is natural. Adoption tears up families and does untold amounts of emotional and spiritual damage. I have seen it first hand in my family. There are open wounds left, I think even worse than what abortion causes, when a woman chooses to give away her child to pursue unnatural and unnecessary ends, because there is always the chance that the child will find its mother, even in closed adoption cases, and ask, Why didn’t you want me? Mothers also pine for their children and think of another woman’s arms holding her child and comforting him, which can be very painful. The children generally grow up either knowing they’re adopted or not knowing it until much later. Growing up knowing it can be very painful, knowing that one’s mother or father didn’t want one for whatever reason. Growing up not knowing it until one’s much older can be even worse, because it can hit one like being turned over to one’s enemies, in a way, e.g., one’s mother didn’t care enough to keep one, etc. I know this is so melancholy a view of things, but this is what I’ve seen and grown up with. My family is a really huge family, and over the 27 years that I’ve been alive, I’ve observed much of these things.

    We can judge what is sin and what is not. It would be irrational to observe a sinful action and say then that it was not sin. What we can’t presume, however, is whether the sin was imputed to the individual. A sin of grave matter is a sin of grave matter whether a person commits it with full knowledge and consent of the will or not. It’s very clear in the exposition of how to judge the morality of actions in the Catechism of the Catholic Church that circumstance can not possibly make a gravely evil action either a neutral or good action. It is always gravely evil to shirk one’s duties (although not always gravely evil to fail for whatever reason). Any woman who gives away her child for another to take care of it in her stead because she wishes to pursue that which is either unnatural or unnecessary is shirking her duty. It doesn’t matter in what age she conceived.

    I do agree that abstinence is beneficial and praiseworthy in the married state. St. Augustine teaches such in his work On the Good of Marriage. He also teaches, however, that if one spouse wills to have relations, the other spouse must render the debt. I believe that’s also taught in Casti Connubii.

    I once heard a priest relate that if one has illicit sexual relations with another, there is most likely no call to marriage between the two. I agree that it is not often a good thing to marry the one with whom one has committed such a violence against one’s children, regardless of the details.

  22. FrAWeidner says:

    Nicole,
    There could be circumstances in which giving a child up for adoption could be grave matter. I am sorry for the experience that your family had with your sister (your story would be much more persuasive if you laid out what happened with your nephew, but I understand the desire for privacy and discretion); it must have been very painful. However, one has to be careful to avoid turning a personal experience into a general rule. You said, “Adoption tears up families and does untold amounts of emotional and spiritual damage.” Not always, and very frequently not. My family has two adopted children. They have known since they were tiny children that they were adopted, and that their biological parents would care for them if they could, but they can’t. They know that they are loved, they are happy, they are alive, and trust me, if they were with their biological parents, their lives would be pretty awful, and they almost certainly wouldn’t be baptized (look to your other comment about that).

    As I said, giving up a child for adoption could be grave matter, but procured abortion is always grave matter of the most cataclysmic order. Consenting to impure or hateful thoughts can be grave matter; so is mass-murdering twenty people. Both could send one to hell. The difference is in temporal consequences. Were both sins repented, the latter would many times outweigh the the former in temporal consequences that needed to be overcome in this life and the next. I think it would be very evident to most folks that the identical would be true of giving up a child for adoption for selfish motives vs. aborting the child. To say otherwise horrendously trivializes abortion.

    I’m pretty sure it was St. Bernard who advised assuming the best of motives of others (especially in terms of the knowledge and freedom which are, with grave matter, sine qua non to mortal sin) and the worst of motives for oneself. This is very wisely applied in a global sense to users of NFP and those who give their children up for adoption.

  23. FrAWeidner says:

    Nicole, I had a very long response prepared with regard to your Casti Connubii-vs.-NFP argument, but decided it was imprudent. Suffice it to say that if a husband or wife brings to bear the Pauline argument to bear versus the spouse’s desire to avoid children during a fertile period, the former had better 1) be 100% ready for a child themselves, as that is the precise choice they are making in that situation, and 2) be outstanding at debate.

  24. Nicole says:

    Father,

    I was trying to speak in generality regarding adoption and what I’ve seen, not absolutely. I’m sure I did poorly.

    I was not trying to say any individual woman who gives up a child for adoption has sinned mortally, but only if she has done so for an evil end. I obviously cannot impute such a sin to any individual woman, since I don’t have that power. I was only using what is objectively true to judge objective knowledge.

    Thanks for your response.