82. The Synod Fathers stated that “the growth of a mentality that would reduce the generation of human life to one variable of an individual’s or a couple’s plans is clearly evident”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 57)
To be fair to generations past and present, this has always been true. Even the Bible gives numerous examples of it. Children can be generated for reasons other than grace or love or natural generativity. I’m thinking of the extreme example of Britain’s Henry VIII who made the production of a male heir such a priority that it led to the severing of part of the Church and resulted in decades of upheaval. Producing children for heritage or ego or such isn’t much of an improvement on declining to have children for selfish reasons. It just looks better from some angles.
The Church’s teaching is meant to “help couples to experience in a complete, harmonious and conscious way their communion as husband and wife, together with their responsibility for procreating life. We need to return to the message of the Encyclical Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI, which highlights the need to respect the dignity of the person in morally assessing methods of regulating birth… The choice of adoption or foster parenting can also express that fruitfulness which is a characteristic of married life”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 58) With special gratitude the Church “supports families who accept, raise and surround with affection children with various disabilities”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 57)
A good reference on adoption and foster care. The responsibility doesn’t end with procreation. Couples older than their forties may also have room to explore how they support life not just create it. By this I mean a dynamic beyond being just grandparents. A fuller exploration of a sacramental responsibility to further Christ’s basic baptismal mission (Cf. Matthew 28:19-20) as well as a productive union in the context of communities: parish, neighborhood, and secular/civic spheres. This is a woefully underdeveloped area of theology.
One last bit on adoption: couples and individuals can fall into the same trap here: a sense that there is a “right” to have a child, and a sense that children are chattel in the context of various adult goals.
Thoughts on this?
For your reference, remember that Amoris Laetitia is online here.