To whom do children belong? Children belong to no one because they are of God. Once upon a time the idea that a child was a gift was deeply rooted in the hearts and minds of people at large, and not just mothers. A gift of God that it is necessary to educate so this gift may return to Him. Procreation was felt to be part of a cycle of sense that removed a child from the hands of any and all earthly power because he/she was “of the Lord”.
This common way of feeling is still alive in many parents, but is becoming ever less so in general terms, and this ever since technical and political rationalization also assumed this form of dominion, dominion over children. Political utopias of centuries past raised serious objections to the idea that children belonged to God, and this began from the ancient utopia of Plato, who thought new born babies had to be immediately placed and raised in public structures under the protective wings of the State so each citizen, when seeing youngsters along streets and in public squares, could say: “that could be my child”. The negation of the family served the purposes of creating a political community of equal peers with strong mutual bonds. If children had continued belonging to their respective parents – it was thought – the internal unity of the community would be weakened and disjointed. This idea has a long story going from the commonality of women in the Phalanasteries of Fourier’s new world, on to Marx’s thoughts in his Manifest, and all the way to last century’s totalitarian states.
The utopian ideal of citizen-orphans so they could have a stronger sense of being cells of the State became progressively stronger with the formation of the modern state that concentrates instruction and education within its own purview, centralizes the health care and treatment of children, weakens family forms of solidarity, and substitutes parents and families to an ever increasing degree. In order to cause damage to the Church and religion, to which families turned directly, entrusted to mothers was the religious education of their children, and procreation was taught as something whose specific human place was in matrimony alone.
With its Social Doctrine, the Church has always taught that children are of their parents, because this was the only way to see to it that they would be of God. The Church has always taught that just as the human place of procreation is the married couple, the human place of education is the family. In fact, upbringing and education are a continuation and fulfillment of procreation, and originally pertain to parents. In so saying, the Church well knew it was enunciating an evident principle of natural moral law, but also knew that in this way children could be educated to Christian piety, the rudimentaries of the Catechism, and prayers to their guardian angel. Through parents, and not through the State, the Church could still have been able to help children know Jesus Christ.
It was a real battle in the true sense of the word, a battle the Church doesn’t seem to want to fight today. No less so than in the Republic of Plato, children nowadays seem to be of the State which takes charge of them in its own structures beginning from nursery school, forms them according to its own programmes and, as the Church had always so rightly feared, systematically distances them from Jesus Christ, speaking about Him in negative terms or not speaking about Him at all. The Church no longer protests about this and does not focus on alternative forms of schooling – like home schooling – which would be the only way it could educate children anew through parents once again gaining possession of their educational role. Home schooling can be not only schooling done by parents, but schooling done by the Church through parents. This would be a way to return to the principle whereby children are of God and not of the national minister of education.
In this sense western democracies are no different from totalitarian regimes. Children are loaded into the “system”: they are educated by teacher-civil servants uniformly instructed by state universities and ministerial training courses; they are “psychologized” from an early age by civil servants now present in all schools; they are “sexualized” from an early age by civil servants through mandatory courses; their state of health is screened from when they are in the womb and, if so deemed necessary, aborted by civil servants; they are sent as exchange students to some other country where they will learn standardized life styles and values set by the civil servants of that State-non State which is the European Union; during their years in school they will be taught about the use of contraceptives, including the “emergency ones”, and artificial fecundation so in their turn they may procreate other children-orphans of the State.
The only thing is, however, that democracies do all this without making it evident. Public education talks about inclusion, but means uniformity; talks about tolerance, but means immorality; talks about equal opportunities, but means sexual indifferentism, talks about freedom of choice, but means forced sexualization as of nursery school according to Guide Lines issued by some office full of civil servants subservient to single and dominant thought. Thus are parents cut out of the picture and are even happy about that. The Church is also put of the picture and children are deformed even before they hear the word ‘God’ for the first time, if they ever will hear it.
Children are of God, people thought. This was acknowledgement of the absolute nature of their value based on the gratuitousness of gift. Only what is not paid for has true value. Procreation must be a gratuitous act in order to then be able to consider new life as a gratuitous gift. This was abundantly clear in the encyclical letter Humanae vitae of Paul VI, which founded not only the morality of the conjugal act as such, but the morality of society at large on truly human procreation. If there is no gratuitousness in the initial act of life, how will it be possible for there to be gratuitousness in ensuing social relations?
In fact, from contraception onwards there has been a progressive worsening in the public perception of the dignity of a child. Children are conceived in laboratories, manufactured from thawed embryos, entrusted to or adopted by same sex couples, divided between divorced parents or fought over by them, bought, sold and contracted with the abominable use of wombs for rent. Moreover, public health care services step into the picture at the emergence of the symptoms of “gender dysphoria”, children are clinic or therapy bound at the first symptoms of slight dyslexia or hyperkinesias, they are exposed to the entertainment or advertising system as of an early age, and parents see them in the morning and then when they come back late in the evening.
The Church has always taught the right of a child to grow up under the heart of his or her mother, and even before that, the right to be conceived in a human manner under the heart of his or her parents. When the Church said the family is a small yet true society, or when it invoked respect for subsidiarity, it did so with an eye on children, in an effort to keep them far away from the Leviathan who wanted them all for himself.
Plato wanted strong internal cohesion among citizens, and this is why the State he had in mind was supposed to take children away from their parents right after birth. His, however, was a utopia. Later on, the political systems of womens’ commonality, centralized planning of procreation, public eugenics, and gender taught in all schools have not produced and do not produce any social cohesion. On the contrary, they turn our children into weak, isolated and apprehensive individuals when they become adults. The expropriation of children reduces them to things.
+ Giampaolo Crepaldi