MANILA, Jan. 24, 2015 — Before it got associated with pills, IUDs and injectables, responsible parenthood was first used by the Catholic Church to signify something completely different — and Pope Francis wants to give back the term its original meaning of openness to life and stewardship, says a priest.
“…As [Pope Francis] freely and openly [mentions] this term responsible parenthood, he claims rightfully that this is part of the domain of faith! Responsible parenthood is a Christian obligation, and it is guided not by the state, but by faith genuinely interpreted and taught by the Church. The pope reclaims the concept, and places it where it should be understood – within the guidance of the authentic Magisterium,” said Fr. Willie Jones W. Ducusin of the Archdiocese of Nueva Segovia , commenting on some statements the Holy Father made aboard the papal flight back to Rome from the Philippines.
‘Hijacked by ideologues’
According to the priest, Pope Francis’ repeated reference to responsible parenthood was not only natural, but deliberate, noting how the term, since its introduction into the world’s consciousness through Paul VI’s encyclical on Humanae Vitae, has been “hijacked by ideologues.”
“It is deliberate I think for the Pope to assert and call for responsible parenthood, even if this was hijacked by ideologues as they have done with the concepts of ‘planned parenthood’, ‘freedom of couples’ and ‘rights of women’,” Ducusin added.
What is strikingly absent from the pontiff’s comments, the priest observed, is any mention of the state as a key player or influencer in the dynamics of family life.
“The Pope, in discussing ‘responsible parenthood’ only mentions God, the parents, the children, the Church –with her marriage groups and pastors. The state is not privy to this… It affirms the parents’ freedom of conscience that is to be informed by faith guided by the Church,” Ducusin said.
According to him, the “conspicuous absence of any reference to the state”, non-Church organizations or even medical practitioners, although they could provide material for discernment, is already telling.
” I think is an implicit — silent, but loud and clear — but deliberate statement,” the priest stressed, saying the Pontiff obviously puts the couple’s discernment on family life, guided by the Church, front and center.
Responsible parenthood is a Christian obligation, and it is guided not by the state or external organizations or thoughts, but by faith, genuinely interpreted and taught by the Church, he explained further.
During his trip back to Rome from an apostolic visit to Asia, Pope Francis touched on several subjects during an in-flight press conference, including what many are calling a “demographic winter” in many parts of the world where a rapdily aging population can no longer support the economy.
The solution to this modern dilemma, the Holy Father said, is still responsible parenthood.
“The key phrase to answer this question [of aging populations] is the one that the Church has always used: responsible parenthood. How does one do this? Through dialogue. Every person, accompanied by their pastor, must find out how to achieve responsible parenthood,” Pope Francis explained. (Nirva’ana Ella Delacruz/CBCPNews)