Browsing News Entries

St. John of Capistrano

On Oct. 23, the Catholic Church celebrates the life of Saint John of Capistrano, a Franciscan priest whose life included a political career, extensive missionary journeys, efforts to reunite separated Eastern Christians with Rome and a historically important turn at military leadership. Invoked as a patron of military chaplains, St. John of Capistrano was praised by St. John Paul II in a 2002 general audience for his “glorious evangelical witness,� as a priest who “gave himself with great generosity for the salvation of souls.� Born in Italy during 1385, John lost his father – a French or possibly German knight who had settled in Capistrano – at a young age. John’s mother took care to have him educated, and after learning Latin he went to study both civil law and Church law in Perugia. An outstanding student, he soon became a prominent public figure and was appointed governor of the city at age 26. John showed high standards of integrity in his civic career, and in 1416 he labored to end a war that had erupted between Perugia and the prominent House of Malatesta. But when the nobles had John imprisoned, he began to question his life’s direction. Encountering Saint Francis of Assisi in a dream, he resolved to embrace poverty, chastity, and obedience with the Franciscans. Abandoning his possessions and social status, John joined the religious order in October 1416. He found a mentor in Saint Bernardine of Siena, known for his bold preaching and his method of prayer focused on the invocation of the name of Jesus. Taking after his teacher in these respects, John began preaching as a deacon in 1420, and was ordained a priest in 1425. John successfully defended his mentor from a charge of heresy made against his way of devotion, though he found less success in his efforts to resolve internal controversy among the followers of St. Francis. A succession of popes entrusted important matters to John, including the effort to reunite Eastern and Western Christendom at the Ecumenical Council of Florence. Drawing immense crowds in his missionary travels throughout Italy, John also found success as a preacher in Central Europe, where he opposed the Hussites’ error regarding the nature and administration of the Eucharist. After Constantinople fell to Turkish invaders in 1453, Pope Nicholas V sent John on a mission to rally other European leaders in defense of their lands. Nicholas’ successor Pope Callixtus III was even more eager to see the Christian world defend itself against the invading forces. When the Sultan Mehmet II sought to extend his territorial gains into Serbia and Hungary, John joined the celebrated general Janos Hunyadi in his defense of Belgrade. The priest personally led a section of the army in its historic victory on Aug. 6, 1456. Neither John nor the general, however, would survive long past the battle. Weakened by the campaign against the Turks, Hunyadi became sick and died soon after the victory at Belgrade. John survived to preach Janos Hunyadi’s funeral sermon; but his own extraordinary life came to an end after a painful illness, on Oct. 23, 1456. St. John of Capistrano was canonized in 1724.

Pause for Prayer: TUESDAY 10/23

Image source

I can't begin to count all the
   pardons,
   second chances,
   clean slates,
   fresh starts
   and new beginnings
you've offered me, Lord,
   in my lifetime,
   this year,
   last month,
   just yesterday
   - and since I woke up this morning!

There is no end to your
   mercy,
   to your patience,
   your indulgence,
   generosity
   and love...

Your mercy is never exhausted, Lord,
your compassion is never spent:
   your kindness is renewed each morning...*

Help me never take for granted, Lord, 
the love and mercy you offer me
over and over again -
regardless of how and how often
I've failed you...

So, this day, Lord, open up
   my heart and soul,
   my eyes, my ears, my mind,
   my awareness and my imagination...

Open me wide
to all the ways you'll offer me today
   your pardon,
   a second chance,
   a clean slate,
   a fresh start
   and a new beginning...

And as you have freely given me
   the grace of starting over,
help me be free in offering all
   my patience and my pardon...

Amen.

*Lamentations 3:23


 

    
Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

U.S. attorney for D.C. announces federal hotline for victims of clergy sex abuse

Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2018 / 04:40 pm (CNA).- Following the launch of a federal investigation into several Catholic dioceses last week, federal prosecutor Jessie K. Liu has announced the opening of a hotline for victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the District of Columbia.

The hotline, announced Monday, is being launched in collaboration with the Superior Court Division’s Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section and the Victim Witness Assistance Unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia.

There is both an email address and a phone number where “survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy who wish to share their experiences and/or those who have knowledge of such abuse” can make incident reports “for potential criminal investigation and prosecution,” said an announcement published by Liu’s office.

Survivors of child sexual abuse by a clergy member that took place in the District of Columbia “in a house of worship, school, or other location” can make reports to the Clergy Abuse Reporting Line at 202-252-7008 or by e-mail at USADC.ReportClergyAbuse@usdoj.gov.

“All reports will be reviewed and a team of experienced criminal investigators, prosecutors, and victim advocates from the Superior Court Division of the U.S. Attorney’s Office will determine whether any criminal charges can be brought or victim services provided,” the announcement states. “The victim advocates, who are part of the Victim Witness Assistance Unit, are available to offer support and guidance to survivors who wish to report.”

The creation of such a hotline comes at the end of the so-called “summer of scandal” during which numerous accusations of abuse surfaced against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a grand jury report from Pennsylvania detailed decades of clerical abuse, and former Vatican nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano accused Vatican officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to sufficiently respond to reports of misconduct on McCarrick’s part.

It also comes about a week after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of D.C.’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who has been the subject of criticism since late June, when revelations about alleged sexual misconduct on the part of his predecessor, McCarrick, raised questions about what Wuerl knew about McCarrick, and how he responded to that knowledge.

The announcement of the hotline also shortly followed the federal government’s launch of an investigation into seven of the eight Catholic dioceses in the state of Pennsylvania, as well as the Diocese of Buffalo in New York, which is also being investigated by its State Attorney General's Office.

According to documents obtained by local media, the Diocese of Buffalo appears to have been served with the a subpoena from the U.S. attorney’s office in late May or early June of this year, though it was only made public last week.

Emails between Buffalo’s Bishop Richard J. Malone, his staff and attorney mention the words “subpoena” and “Grand Jury” as early as May 31 of this year, Channel 7 Eyewitness News WKBW in Buffalo, an ABC affiliate, reported.

In those emails, Malone said he found it “encouraging” that the scope of the investigation would likely be small, based on the criteria of the probe. He also said that he hoped any prosecutable cases would be “all men (already) removed from ministry.”

A source told WKBW that the subpoena was related “to pornography, taking victims across state lines and use of cell phones/social media.”

On Oct. 18, the Diocese of Buffalo released a statement acknowledging that a federal subpoena was served to the diocese “several months ago.”

“A subpoena was provided and after some discussion, an agreement was reached to produce documents. We have heard nothing since early June. As far as we know, our response has nothing to do with the current Pennsylvania investigation that has just begun."

 

Nikki Haley praises ‘everyday miracles’ of Church despite abuse crisis

New York City, N.Y., Oct 22, 2018 / 03:30 pm (CNA).- Ambassador Nikki Haley used her speech at the annual Al Smith dinner in New York City to acknowledge the Church’s efforts to address the sexual abuse scandal while continuing its “incredible work” helping “millions of desperate people” around the world.

The outgoing U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations was the guest of honor at the fundraising dinner for the Archdiocese of New York, held Oct. 18. While the dinner raises millions of dollars for the Church’s charitable outreach in the city, Haley said that the efforts she had seen went “way beyond that.”

In the course of her time as ambassador, Haley said that she had been to some “truly dark places” where the suffering endured by many people would be “hard for most Americans to imagine.”

“I’ve been to the border between Colombia and Venezuela, where people walk 3 hours each way in the blazing sun to get the only meal that they will have that day. Who’s giving that meal? The Catholic Church,” she said.

“I’ve been to refugee camps in Central Africa where young boys are kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers and young girls are raped as a matter of routine. Who was in the forefront of changing this culture of corruption and violence? The Catholic Church.”

Haley also acknowledged the sexual abuse crises which have rocked the Church, both in the United States and globally, saying that she would “be remiss” if she did not mention the recent scandals. Noting that sexual abuse and assault was not a problem limited to the Church but one which “deeply touches the American family,” she said that the Church had an obligation to victims.

“The church’s place must be with the victims that carry the pain with them. I know the church leaders recognize its deep responsibility to address this moral failing, and it is taking action,” she said. At the same time, the ambassador said that it would be “tragic” if the abuse scandal made the world blind to “the amazing good works the Catholic Church does every single day.”

Haley called the Church’s global works of charity, education, and healthcare “everyday miracles” and said that “those miracles are the way of the Church.”

The annual event raises money for the Alfred E. Smith Foundation, which serves the “neediest children of the Archdiocese of New York, regardless of race, creed, or color.” Each year, the dinner features a prominent politician; during presidential election years, the two main candidates are invited together.

Smith was the first Catholic to be nominated as a presidential candidate by one of the two leading U.S. political parties.

Speakers at the dinner traditionally deliver irreverent and light hearted political humor, and Haley offered good natured jokes at the expense of prominent Democrats and Republicans, including the president.

But she was also quick to place American political strife in context, criticizing the growing tendency to term political opponents as “evil.”

“In the last two years, I’ve seen true evil. We have some serious political differences here at home. But our opponents are not evil. They’re just our opponents,” she said.

“We are blessed with a political system that allows us to resolve our differences peacefully. In the end, we must recognize that we are all Americans, and we are stronger and healthier when we are united.”

Haley’s appearance at the dinner came a little over a week after she announced that she will be stepping down from her role at the UN at the end of 2018. Haley had served as the UN Ambassador since the beginning of President Trump’s term, having previously been the governor of South Carolina.

The dinner raised nearly $4 million.

HHS considers defining sex based on birth, genetics

Washington D.C., Oct 22, 2018 / 11:30 am (CNA).- The Trump administration is considering reshaping some federal policies to define gender according to a person’s biology and genitalia, according to a new memo from the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

The department is seeking a definition based “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”

 

If adopted, the changed definition would clarify the application of Title IX, the 1972 civil rights law prohibiting gender-based discrimination in educational programs that receive government funding.

 

This change would be a departure from practices developed during the Obama administration, which recognize a person’s gender based on their own interpretation or identity rather than their chromosomal makeup or birth sex.  

 

A 2010 “Dear Colleague” letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights noted that “gender based harassment” could include harassment based upon the “actual or perceived” “gender identity” of a person. A question-and-answer document from the same office, issued in 2014, stated that sex-based discrimination under Title IX extended to discrimination based on “gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity."

 

If the proposed changes come into effect, sex would be defined as “a person’s status as male or female based on the immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth.”

 

The sex on a person’s original birth certificate would serve as “definitive proof” of their sex, with exceptions for those who can provide “reliable genetic evidence” that states otherwise.

 

Approximately 1 out of every 1,500 to 2,000 births have abnormal sex chromosomes other than the typical XX for females and XY for males. The most common of these is Klinefelter Syndrome, which means that a male has two X chromosomes in addition to a Y chromosome. Many men with Klinefelter Syndrome are unaware they have the condition.

 

In the United States, an estimated 1.4 million people identify as “transgender,” self-identifying as a gender other than the one recorded at birth. Some such people have undergone surgery or hormonal treatments to physically resemble their gender of self-identification.

 

Critics of the proposed changes have argued that they would exclude those identifying as “transgender” from protection by Title IX and other anti-discrimination measures. Supporters of the proposal contend that it merely ensures such laws are applied to the whole population based on objective criteria and not subjective self-identification.

 

The Department of Health and Human Services is expected to present a version of the new policy to the Department of Justice before the end of the year. If the Justice Department considers the revised definition legally viable and enforceable, HHS can then approve and implement it as policy across a range of government agencies involved with Title IX enforcement.

Monday Morning Offering: 10/22

Morning Coffee by George Mendoza

Good morning, good God!

Yesterday, at the end of the day,
your day, Lord,
at day's end I reflected, mused and prayed
over all my heart had held
in the course of just one day...

Some of what coursed through my heart
sprang up from within:
a spring, filling, overflowing and flooding my soul
with memories and nostalgia,
recollections and remembrances,
some sad, some bittersweet
and oh-so-many joyful...

But that's not all my heart held yesterday...

Like a sponge, my soul soaked up
the overflowing springs of all the hearts around me:
pools of grief and healing,
streams of sadness and joy.
rivers of dreams and memories,
burbling brooks of trust and faith and hope...

I've no idea, Lord, how one human heart
holds such a sea of feelings
without perishing in an ocean of emotions,
under waves of burdens and joys,
hopes and fears,
dreams and disappointments...

Nor can I fathom, Lord, how your heart holds the same
of every heart that ever beat
in the history and future of all humankind -
and yet, you do...

So this morning, Lord,
I offer you my heart and all it holds,
my soul filled to overflowing,
rising and falling on tides of tears
and breakers of joy...

I offer my heart into yours, Lord,
grateful for the mystery, the grace,
of all a heart can hold...

Bless and heal, Lord, all that flows
from the springs within my heart
and heal and bless all my soul holds
of those who share their hearts with me...

Amen.



 

    
Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

Homily for October 21



Homily for the Twenty-ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time 
Scriptures for today's Mass

Audio


The point of these scriptures, as the church has assembled them here,
is that we are called to serve one another
as Jesus served us.
That’s a tall order, especially when phrased in terms of being
 “crushed in infirmity and affliction”
and being a “servant to others, a slave to all.”
Sometimes it’s helpful to work with the language scripture uses
- not to water it down, not to dilute it -
but to make it more accessible
in the hope that we might be able to see a way
to  live what the Word asks of us.
So, let’s look at what it might mean to be a servant of others,
even a slave of all - in terms we can grasp and live up to.

The quick answer here is that we look for ways to serve others
with our time, our talents and our treasure.
You’ve heard this trio of T words before.
It’s used a lot because it’s true.

• One of our most precious commodities is our time.
Sharing and giving our time away for others is an important way
to serve our neighbor.

•Time, and talent. ..
We all have gifts and talents to help us serve one another.
Some of these are more obvious, more attention-getting than others -
but all our gifts and talents are meant to be shared
for the sake of the common good.

• And treasure.  Some of us have more treasure than others
but treasure is a relative category.
A $5 offering from one person
might actually be more and more generous
than a $100 offering from someone else,
depending on our individual, personal resources.
Our treasure is given us by God to be shared,
especially with those in need.

But we’ve heard those three before.
So let me suggest to you 10 other ways we might be of service to others,
of service to all.
(Did he say TENother ways?  How long is this homily going to last?)
Be not afraid.  I’ll make these 10 points briefly - all in bullet points.

1) I can serve others simply by paying attention:
by paying attention to their lives, to their circumstances:
their pain, their burdens, their joys, their problems and their fears…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
needs me to pay them more attention?

2) I can serve others with my affection:
with a warm word, a word of praise, a hand on a shoulder, a hug,
my gentle presence, a firm handshake, any kind gesture…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
needs a share of my affection?

3) I can serve others with my compassion:
with my reaching out to someone in trouble,
just my “showing up” in someone’s time of need or loss,
with my silence, when my silent presence
might be the most compassionate gift I can offer…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
is in need of my compassion?

4) I can serve others by including them:
by inviting someone who’s often forgotten,
by including someone who’s often left out,
by reaching out and drawing in someone who’s afraid to approach…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
is waiting to find, to have, to enjoy a place in my life?

5) I can serve others with my patience:
with my willingness to wait, without complaint,
with my calmness in matching the slower pace another sets,
with my perseverance in helping those who stumble
and make mistakes - often…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
would benefit from a more patient response from me?

6) I can serve others with my forgiveness:
with my not holding others to standards
higher than I set for myself,
with my letting go my grudges and resentments,
with my pardoning without punishing…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
might I set free simply by forgiving them?

7) I can serve others with my generosity:
with my freely giving - even before I’m asked,
with my quietly giving, behind the scenes,
with my giving until I feel the pinch myself…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
has wants and needs my generosity might answer and supply?

8) I can serve others with my understanding:
with my taking time to really listen,
with letting go my prejudice and bias,
with my opening up to other points of view…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
needs a more understanding response from me?

9) I can serve others with my truth:
with my speaking honestly when a lie would be much easier,
with my speaking accurately when I’m tempted to exaggerate,
with my speaking face to face and not behind another’s back…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
deserves a more honest, accurate, personal response from me?

10) I can serve others with my prayer:
by praying for others,
by praying for others and letting them know I prayed for them,
by inviting others to join me in prayer…
So I might ask myself: who at home, at work, at school,
who around me,
who needs my prayers, who needs to know I pray for them,
who might I invite to join me in prayer?

Ten simple ways for all of us to serve one another
as followers of  Jesus who served us.
I doubt that in serving this way that we’ll find ourselves
 “afflicted and crushed in infirmity”
or that we’ll feel we’ve been made a slave to others.
Actually, serving in these ways will likely bring us joy,
the joy of giving of ourselves, in love, for others.

The greatest service Jesus offered us
was the gift of his life on the Cross.
He continues to offer us that gift, here at his table,
where, in the Bread and Cup of the Eucharist,
he nourishes and strengthens us to serve one another.

As the Lord served us with his attention and affection,
his compassion and inclusion, his patience and forgiveness,
his generosity and understanding, his truth and his prayer:
as Jesus served us,
so let us serve one another
at home, at work, at school and all around us.



 

   
Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments 

Pause for Prayer: SUNDAY 10/21



So often, Lord,
I let worries and fears build walls
that keep me from your grace, your strength,
your desire to help me
   to do the next right thing,
   speak the next right word
   and make the next right move...

Too often, Lord,
I isolate my spirit and I fail,
so slow am I to welcome
all the help, the lift, the gifts you offer
   when I'm trapped and lost in  worry,
   when I doubt my self in fear
   and distrust my will to do what I must do...

All too often, Lord,
I find a way, a reason to excuse myself
from my responsibility,
to seize the opportunity
   to do the next right thing,
   speak the next right word
   and make the next right move...

Way too often, Lord, I'm too easily satisfied
   when worry weakens my resolve,
   when old fears frustrate the best of my plans,
   when doubt disarms my will to speak...

So, break through, Lord, I pray:
break through my fear with your sure grace,
break through my worry with your sweet peace,
break through my doubts and strengthen me
   to do the next right thing,
   speak the next right word
   and make the next right move...

Amen.





    
Subscribe to A Concord Pastor Comments

Church needs fewer and better seminaries, says seminary prof

Washington D.C., Oct 20, 2018 / 01:00 pm (CNA).- In the wake of recent reports concerning widespread sexual harassment and sexual abuse at seminaries, a seminary professor has suggestions for how the seminary process could improve.

Fr. Thomas Berg, a professor of moral theology and director of admissions at St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York, suggested in an Oct. 18 Washington Post column six ways the formation process of seminarians could be changed to ensure that they would be properly formed both spiritually and emotionally.

Berg criticized the current seminary system for an “overemphasis on academics” that leaves seminarians lesser formed emotionally and personally. He warned that those kinds of deficits do not form priests who are ready to effectively serve their parishes, and could result in additional misbehavior.

“Where focus on personal psychological integration is lacking, space opens for disordered living of precisely the type that has made headlines in recent months,” he said. Seminaries in several U.S. cities announced investigations into misconduct this summer.

Next, Berg said that there needs to be increased trust and transparency betweens seminarians and formation teams. He said it “pained [him] to hear” that some seminarians had felt as though they could not discuss recent abuse stories. This censorship was “utterly wrongheaded.”

He said that seminarians should be able to “freely, frankly and confidently express to the formation team their concerns about the seminary community, their opinions about the formation process and any other honest apprehension or contribution they want to make in the spirit of honest dialogue.”

Additionally, he called for seminaries to have clear sexual harassment policies and protocols, and said that a person associated with the seminary, lay or otherwise, should be appointed to contact the diocese regarding sexual harassment or abuse.

Berg additionally called for a possible minimum age for seminarians, and said that “bishops need to slow down the rush to ordination.” He suggested that an age of 22 may be an appropriate time to begin seminary studies, which would allow the seminarian to acquire a college degree and work experience before entering.

While the current seminary process takes about seven years, Berg suggested that the process be extended by another year. An initial year of formation would consist of “detoxing from the culture and social media,” and would result in “growth in self-knowledge, prayer, and a secure masculine identity.” The final year prior to ordination could consist of “intensive fieldwork” in pastoral ministry.

Bishops may not appreciate this idea, he said, but he believes it is necessary, as the Church cannot be well served by priests who are ordained before they are actually ready for the position. This spiritual immaturity could result in mental health crises or other issues among clergy.

“When years later some of them falter, with addictions or other personal struggles, we all pay a heavy price,” he explained.

Berg also expressed concern at what he described as “priests who lack the skill set and drive to become mentors, role models and moral guides” being assigned to seminaries as formators.

“A doctorate in theology does not render a priest automatically suitable for such ministry,” he said. Bishops need to require that the formators themselves undergo ongoing professional formation to better serve the seminarians.

For his final points, Berg addressed the number and quality of seminaries in the United States. He said that steps should be taken to identify which seminaries are successful in the formation of priests, and those that are failing at this task. He suggested that bishops should form a panel of “seasoned seminary formators” who will visit each seminary to review their processes.

Seminaries that are “failing in their mission” should be reformed or closed.

Finally, Berg said that the current number of seminaries in the United States--70--is far too high and that number needs to be consolidated. A third of those seminaries, according to a recent report, have fewer than 50 seminarians, whereas 11 of them have more than 100 men in formation.

Instead of this glut of seminaries that are clearly not needed, Berg suggested making “15 or 20” regional seminaries, staffed by the best-of-the-best formators from seminaries around the country who would work in teams.

The current times require a “radical rethinking” of seminaries, one that must be started by the bishops, he said.

 

Having kids won’t doom your country, says #PostcardsForMacron creator

Washington D.C., Oct 20, 2018 / 04:00 am (ACI Prensa).- The idea that high fertility rates are a barrier to economic success is a contemporary myth, Catholic University of America economics professor, mother of eight, and viral hashtag creator Dr. Catherine Pakaluk told CNA.

Pakaluk started the viral “#PostcardsForMacron” hashtag on Monday in response to French President Emanuel Macron’s comment at a Gates Foundation event.

Macron suggested that educated women would not choose to have a large number of children if they had a choice. While Pakaluk thinks the comment was taken partly out of context, and tried to give Macron the benefit of the doubt, she still thought it was “so ridiculous.”

Pakaluk’s academic research area focuses in part on the effects of fertility on economic development.

“High fertility is not the product of ignorance,” Pakaluk told CNA. She said Macron’s comments represent an “underlying view” common in contemporary culture.

This attitude prevails both in Africa, and in other places such as the United States, she said. Women like herself who chose to have many children face a “pejorative attitude” from other people about their decisions to have lots of children.

“That's what I pop into, and say 'Hey, look, this is silly. Lots of women do choose this,’” she explained.

And while Pakuluk said most college-educated women do not choose to have that many children, “there are some.”

“So that was my main impetus to pick that [line of Macron’s speech] out."

Pakaluk was critical of Macron’s take that families with large number of children are holding Africa back developmentally. She described this mentality as “kind of a contemporary myth” that is not backed up with statistics.  

“There is no evidence that says countries cannot grow quickly, or steadily, with high levels of fertility,” she explained. “There are a lot of people, in response to this [...] out there kind of crunching the numbers on African fertility. And some have pointed out 'look, actually African fertility is not especially high relative to its income.'"

Across the continent, the average fertility rate does not climb to seven, eight, or nine, she said. In reality, the total fertility rate (TFR) throughout Africa is closer to the world’s median rate, “in the four range.”

"There simply is not mountains and mountains of evidence to say that if countries get their fertility rates down to the twos and the threes, all of the sudden you're going to just explode [economically]," she said.  

Nigeria, the country in Africa with the highest GDP, has the 12th-highest fertility rate in the world, with a TFR of 5.07. South Africa, which has the second-highest GDP on the continent, has a much lower fertility rate of 2.29.

Pakaluk told CNA that she was unhappy that Macron compared forced child marriage, which is “not something Christians could get behind or agree with,” to having large families.

She theorized that Macron’s views were similar to those of the Gates Foundation, which considers population growth to be a barrier to economic growth.

She expressed concern that this viewpoint could be used to force contraception on African women, “regardless of whether they are asking for this.”

“And I think that’s false, because other countries have grown quickly with a TFR in the range that [African countries] are in.”

While most social conservatives do not oppose the availability of contraception, she said, “what they’re against is kind of an aggressive policy” that wastes time and money that could be spent on other developmental programs.

Additionally, Pakaluk said that providing contraception to girls who were forced into marriage in their preteens “isn’t going to help” their situations. Instead, she suggested that more efforts be focused on opposing the cultural norms that approve of these situations.

She is also concerned that “an era of cheap and widely-available contraception,” in which it is easy for people to pick the size of their families, people are choosing to have fewer and fewer children.

Pakaluk lamented declining fertility rates in other parts of the world, mentioning especially Europe.

While France is home to Europe’s highest TFR at 1.96, it is still below the population replacement-level rate of 2.1. This is cause for concern for Pakaluk, who warned that the low birth rates would spell disaster for the continent’s extensive social programs.

She is also concerned that the anti-child mentality is a sign of bigger problems.

"People don't have kids to save their countries from demographic winter,” she said.

“They have kids because of a certain attitude towards meaning and the meaning of life and what it means to live a good human life."