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Steven Buhagiar: Is motherhood going out of fashion?

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PHOTO: Jonathan Borba, Unsplash

Treasuring the maternal genius

We often ask our daughters the question, “What do you want to be when you get older?” Invariably, we receive answers that are aligned with the more popular career prospects such as teacher, doctor, or engineer. As a thought experiment and imagining that the child questioned was your own, how would you respond if they answered, “I’d like to be a mother”?

If you responded in an affirming manner, thank you. As humans, we definitely need positive responses in this regard that encourage and confirm the importance of the ‘maternal’ mindset and especially so in a world that has, seemingly, done its best to suppress and even punish a woman’s right to laud and fruitfully bring to bear her biological fertility.

Motherhood, especially in so-called developed first world societies, is going out of fashion. International datasets continue to indicate a fall in total fertility rates where many nations are facing, increasingly, the crippling prospect of a ‘demographic winter’.

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Korea carries the ignominy of having the lowest Total Fertility Rate (the average number of children per woman over her lifetime) by coming in at 0.9 children.Australia currently sits at 1.82 i.e. below replacement level, the US at 1.70, and, surprisingly, nominally Catholic Portugal, Italy, and Malta have rates of 1.27, 1.42, and 1.1 respectively. (2019 OECD data)

Sydney mums Marthe Azzi, Madeleine Carrington, Chantel Czeczotko and Angela Chehade pictured last November while each awaited the birth of their child. PHOTO: Giovanni Portelli

So how have we come to a state where women, the only humans who can bring into the world a being created in the image and likeness of God, are increasingly shunning the wondrous and privileged gift to do so?

To answer this critical question as well as it deserves would require a book-length response and to those commentators such Mary Eberstadt who have already done as much, we are most grateful. For my purposes here, however, allow to name and discuss the most obvious contributing factor to our contemporary war on motherhood – the universal prevalence in society of a contraceptive mentality.

On 25 July 1968, Pope Saint Paul IV promulgated the encyclical Humanae Vitae, a document which in the main continues to be – and devastatingly so – relegated to the ‘has-beens’ bookshelf.

Women bringing little-known gem to Sydney

As many will know it specifically forbids the use of contraceptive means in relation to the conjugal act. Contraception introduces a substantive break in the unitive and procreative foundations of this intimate and sacred expression of human love between a man and a woman.

The message continues to be disregarded across the board and remains an unpopular topic of conversation even in ecclesial circles. This is most unfortunate because contraception remains one of the main missiles of choice for organisations such as Planned Parenthood, who know that a culture which has embraced contraception will, undoubtedly, always provide a sure cohort of mothers who will resort to abortion when contraception “fails”.

We are now living in the midst of the scenario prophesied by St Paul VI

This tragic and telling fact is borne out in a 2018 research article from the Medical Journal of Australia which notes that 30 per cent of “unintended pregnancies” (read ‘babies’) will end in an abortion.

Humanae Vitae set out four little known and strikingly accurate prophesies which highlighted the grave consequences that would befall a society which accepted a contraceptive mentality. St Paul VI named these as:

1. An opening of a wide and easy road to “marital infidelity and a general lowering of morality”;
2. The creation of an environment where man “loses respect for woman and comes to the point where she is seen as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment”;
3. The empowerment of governments to impose “efficacious” contraceptive methods on its populace and;
4. The “domination” of man over the physical body and its functions.

We are now living in the midst of the scenario prophesied by St Paul VI. An epidemic of fatherless children and unwed mothers, the ‘consent’ and ‘me-too’ movement in full swing, the one-child policy of communist and totalitarian regimes, the multibillion-dollar IVF and surrogacy industries, and a worldwide genocide of 40 million babies annually, provides the ongoing and normative ‘tribute’ of humanity’s everyday war on women. It is a war on a woman’s innate femininity and genius which is, at its fundamental core, the gift of maternal receptivity and fruitfulness.

This year as we celebrate this Mothers’ Day and our mothers, both physical and spiritual, let us recognise that they are, without a shadow of a doubt, critically vital and indispensable to the revitalisation of a flourishing society.

Let us look at them with a renewed sense of gratitude, wonder, and awe and see in them the gift given from the very hands of our loving Creator. This Mother’s Day, let us be sure to tell our daughters that to be a mother is not only a beautiful and life giving gift, but that it is one of the most important contributions that a woman can make for the ultimate good of human existence itself.


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