29 May 2008

Before, some were 'illegitimate' but now some are 'illegal'

Remember the cry in English-speaking countries a few decades ago, 'No illegitimate children, only illegitimate parents'? The legal stigma attached to children born out of wedlock was removed probably in all of those countries. In some urban areas in my native Republic of Ireland, where about 90 percent are still nominally Catholic, more than half of children now are born out of wedlock. It seems that the word 'spouse' has now become a 'four-letter' word. 'Partners' is now the polite term.

I'm not sure if China, soon to host the Olympic Games, has the category of 'illegitimate' children but it has 'illegal' children. Very generously, the authorities in China have agreed to grant some of these, but not all, legal status as a story in the International Herald Tribune reported a couple of days ago.

China's one-child policy has exemptions for quake victims' parents
By Andrew Jacobs Published: May 27, 2008

CHENGDU, China: In response to inquiries from grieving relatives, local officials announced Monday that parents whose only child was killed or grievously injured in the May 12 earthquake would be exempt from the country's one-child policy . . . The committee announced Monday that if a couple's legally born child was killed in the earthquake, an illegal child under 18 years could be registered as a legal replacement. If the dead child was illegal, it said the family would no longer be responsible for outstanding fines, although parents would not be reimbursed for penalties already paid.

An old English word beginning with 'b' that was used before to describe 'illegitimate children' comes to mind - but not to describe the 'illegal children' of the People's Republic of China.

Meanwhile, a British couple of Indian origin, the husband 72 and the wife 59, dumped their newborn twins, born after fertility treatment, because they are girls, as this story shows.

IVF couple 'dump twin girls'

Press Assoc. A couple who travelled to India for IVF treatment dumped their newborn twins at a British hospital when they found out they were girls.

Reports said the mother, 59, and father, 72, travelled to India for fertility treatment that would not have been allowed in Britain because of their age.

The parents, who were born in India but are British citizens living in Birmingham, reportedly told doctors they did not want the "wrong sex" babies immediately after the children were born by Caesarean section in Wolverhampton's New Cross hospital a fortnight ago.

The newspaper says the husband then asked medics how long it would be before his wife was fit enough to fly back to India for more IVF treatment in the hope of getting a boy to continue the family name

I know that the Feast of the Visitation is in two days time, followed in a few weeks by the Solemnity of the Birthday of St John the Baptist, but Zechariah and Elizabeth, as two God-fearing people, used to 'Dance in the Old Fashioned Way' as Charles Aznavour advised:

What does the Church have to say about who makes the basic decisions about having children? It belongs to the husband and wife together, not to the state. And they are meant, in God's plan, to do it in 'The Old Fashioned Way'. here is what Gaudium et Spes, The Church in the Modern World, singed by Pope Paul VI on 7 December 1965 during Vatican II, has to say in No 50:

Parents should regard as their proper mission the task of transmitting human life and educating those to whom it has been transmitted. They should realize that they are thereby cooperators with the love of God the Creator, and are, so to speak, the interpreters of that love. Thus they will fulfil their task with human and Christian responsibility, and, with docile reverence toward God, will make decisions by common counsel and effort. Let them thoughtfully take into account both their own welfare and that of their children, those already born and those which the future may bring. For this accounting they need to reckon with both the material and the spiritual conditions of the times as well as of their state in life. Finally, they should consult the interests of the family group, of temporal society, and of the Church herself. The parents themselves and no one else should ultimately make this judgment in the sight of God. But in their manner of acting, spouses should be aware that they cannot proceed arbitrarily, but must always be governed according to a conscience dutifully conformed to the divine law itself, and should be submissive toward the Church's teaching office, which authentically interprets that law in the light of the Gospel. That divine law reveals and protects the integral meaning of conjugal love, and impels it toward a truly human fulfillment. Thus, trusting in divine Providence and refining the spirit of sacrifice,(12) married Christians glorify the Creator and strive toward fulfillment in Christ when with a generous human and Christian sense of responsibility they acquit themselves of the duty to procreate. Among the couples who fulfil their God-given task in this way, those merit special mention who with a gallant heart and with wise and common deliberation, undertake to bring up suitably even a relatively large family.(13)


Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Can you imagine me in India with 7 girls in a row?

MTFR said...

I can just imagine the stares you'd get Jackie :)

Its ironic how, when it becomes convenient, children become acknowledged and welcomed. Conveniency -- ours become the standard by which things are allowed or not. How different from how God works...:

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Jackie, you could imagine that you were a hen, or 'hin' as they say in some parts of Ireland, and ask yourself, 'What's a hin do?'

Sadly, children have become a commodity for some and a 'right' - while for others they have a 'right' to kill their children. Disappointment is part of life and I know married couples who long for a child but, for whatever reason, can't have one. The live with that disappointment but with hope als.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Thought provoking & good sense of humour all the same Fr!