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Should The Generations Overlap?

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By DONALD DeMARCO

In his novel, The Way of All Flesh, 19th-century satirist Samuel Butler, raised a curious question: “Why should the generations overlap one another at all? Why cannot we be buried as eggs in neat little cells with ten or twenty thousand pounds each wrapped round us in Bank of England notes, and wake up, as the sphex [mud-dauber wasp] does to find that its papa and mamma have not only left ample provision at its elbow but have been eaten by sparrows some weeks before we began to live consciously on our own accounts?”
Butler’s question may seem utterly facetious, but it does, perhaps not surprisingly, have contemporary relevance. It should be apparent by now, that children need their parents not only for food, clothing, and shelter, but also for love and moral guidance. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, however, finds reason to disagree, especially with that form of moral guidance offered to their children by parents who are Catholic.
In its February 5 report, the committee expressed its regret “that the Holy See continues to place emphasis on the promotion of complementarity and equality in dignity with regard to boys and girls.” Committee members fear that the notion of complementarity can lead to harmful stereotyping. The committee also expressed its displeasure that the Church has failed “to remove gender stereotypes from Catholic schools textbooks (n. 27).” Although it employs the terminology of “boys” and “girls,” the report is at a loss concerning how they relate to each other. It does not regard these very terms, however, to be stereotypes in themselves.
The committee appears unaware of the harm that contraception and abortion can bring to adolescents. They are aware only of the harm done to children that results from withholding them. Thus, “The Committee is seriously concerned about the negative consequences of the Holy See’s position and practices of denying adolescents’ access to contraception, as well as to sexual and reproductive health and information” (n. 56).
In addition, “The Committee urges the Holy See to review its position on abortion which places obvious risks on the life and health of pregnant girls and to amend Canon 1398 relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted” (n. 55).
These statements are tantamount to telling the Church and Catholic parents that they should allow children to enjoy sex apart from marriage, use contraception, and obtain abortions.
One might wonder why the committee, in its spacious liberality, balks at condoning the use of alcohol, drugs, and pornography. Apparently, in the mind of the committee members, parenting is good for breeding, but not for raising children. And raising children Catholic style can be positively dangerous. Perhaps Catholic parents should follow the example of the mud-dauber wasp.
In a response to the committee’s report, the Holy See issued a statement that must be regarded as the epitome of restraint. It reads as follows:
“The Holy See does, however, regret to see in some points of the Concluding Observations an attempt to interfere with Catholic Church teaching on the dignity of the human person and in the exercise of human freedom. The Holy See reiterates its commitment to defending and protecting the rights of the child, in line with the principles promoted by the Convention on the Rights of the Child and according to the moral and religious values offered by Catholic doctrine.”
Catholic parents are not about to yield to UN politically correct bureaucrats on the critical matter of how to raise their children. The UN committee’s blindness to the value of Catholic morality, which is grounded in love, is exceeded only by its blindness to the direct harm that contraception, sexual experimentation, and abortion can impose on young adolescents. Nor is the Church about to capitulate to a set of recommendations that have no basis in fact and are utterly inimical to Catholic teaching founded by Christ and refined over a period of slightly more than 2,000 years.
The UN committee is grandstanding. More to the point, however, is the fact that its recommendations, if carried out, would be in violation of the rights of children, specifically because they are in violation of the rights and duties of the parents to raise their children properly.

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(Donald DeMarco is a senior fellow of Human Life International. He is professor emeritus at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ontario, and an adjunct professor at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Cromwell, Conn., and a regular columnist for St. Austin Review. Some of his recent writings may be found at Human Life International’s Truth & Charity Forum.)

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