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ZENIT - Family Life in Flux

There is a demographic crisis looming for Canadians. We are not reproducing enough children to replace the population. This means that the financial tax burden on the generation now trying to make their way into the workplace (a daunting enough task these days) will be called to make enormous tax payments as we have already spent the money that was supposed to pay for the last of the boomers and Generation X'ers pension and health benefits. Governments have emptied a large part of our accumulated contributions to pay to cover huge deficits.

We are not unique. In some countries like China, which enforced a 'one child' policy, the right to use abortion as a gender determinant has resulted in far more males than females. Given the inherent patriarchal nature of western societies, it is likely that the same results would appear in Canada, especially as more and more families are making the decision to have one (or no) children.

These are the results of our societal experimentation trying to change the rules and definitions of our societal covenant. The proliferation of abortions, the emphasis on material goods and the maintenance of the demand for the 'good life', even though we could not afford to do so forever. There are certain economic and cultural consequences that have made themselves evident. There is a certain 'societal malaise' that, for the first time in human history, has led the entire Western world to choose not to at least replace itself. This would seem to be either evidence that this generation is too selfish, too focused upon its wants rather than its needs, or simply incapable to doing what was needed to continue its culture and prosperity for the generation that is following.

BFO - Ontario logo: The intent is to express the reality of bereavement  but it's an appropriate image for the demographic future of Western nations.

As this process grows apace, I ask you: upon what basis are we to assume that the generation upon who we are about to harness to the grindstone to pay for our excess if the example we have given them is that we didn't care enough to give them sufficient numbers to the carry on as easily as we did? If it's true that the 'apple does not fall from the tree', (a maxim well proved by history) why should we believe that the meager fruit of this generation will not also be blighted with a concern for themselves over and above anyone else?

This is not a warning that is coming only from religious institutions. Politicians as diverse from Lucien Bouchard and Vladimir Putin have said the same. The Vanier Institute of the Family, an Ottawa think tank, has also published a report recently which exposes some of the difficulties that the current demographic trends are causing in Canada.

Family Life in Flux


  1. I saw this coming back in the late sixties, Tim, but nobody paid any attention to me then. I don't have a famous name, so I got dismissed out of hand. I repeated my warnings through the seventies, eighties, and nineties, and still no one listened. Now we're on a collision course with disaster, and everyone all around me is yelping, "How come nobody told us?"

    *headdesk* Sometimes I just wanna slap someone, y'know?

    But the answer is not more people. The answer is we gotta stop spending money we don't have. On things we don't need. On toys that break before we can figure out how to play with them, and that can't be fixed, so we "gotta" buy new ones or else what will the neighbors think?

    Until very recently, I've always pretty much shrugged off the idea of the Mayan calendar's ending "the world as we know it" on 21 December, 2012. Not long ago, though, a thought crept into my head and made itself at home: that date is about a month after the next American presidential election, and whichever way that election goes, there are gonna be some awfully angry people all over the world. I think maybe we've got a worldwide revoltion coming, in which the people of various countries finally rise up against their respective governments and say, "Enough!" We've already seen some starter kits being fired up in Europe. I think it's gonna spread.

    Do you remember Malachi Martin? I used to listen to him in various interviews, and he was definite about a coming disaster, although he always stopped a little short of spelling it out -- "It will be worse than anything you can imagine," was about how he put it. Repeatedly. I used to get so frustrated that he wouldn't be more clear than that. Or maybe he just didn't know specifics, but trusted his instincts.

    So, yeah, I think a change is definitely coming. But we need to make the change worth the anguish we're gonna feel. We can't go back to the old model of "borrowing" funds (stealing, more like) from the future generations in order to "pay" for what we want now. We need to dump the idea of credit and learn to fend for ourselves. And we need to learn to pay as we go and not depend on fiat money to carry us along.

    No, not more people. More sense. That's what we need.

  2. I want to address this.

    Not every female is mentally capable of raising a large family. I know (Doctor of the Church), Catherine of Siena was the 24th child of her parents. Her mother gave birth to all.

    I'm I not woman enough according to the Catholic Church if I do not have at least 5-6-10 children?

    I love my 2 children. But to bring another child into my situation would had push me over the edge which my husband knew. So it was he that made the sacrifice to have a vasectomy. This decision was difficult but it needed to be done.

    I told a nun what happened & she was relieved that it was not me that got my tubes tied & so forth. I quietly told her not to blame my husband because he loves me & he wanted his children to have a mother. He wanted me to live freely without the fear of another pregnancy that mentally I was not able to deal with.

    (I do not remember who I told this, but I do remember saying if I find out I'm pregnant I will abort)

    Many years later my husband shared with me it would had been nice to have another child but he is happy the direction we took. It was the right responsible thing to do for us & our family.

    I learned long ago if a woman & her mate wants many children not to be jealous of them but be happy for them.

    Usually, Catholic females will know what the Catholic Church expects from them. All this Theology of the Body stuff is fine in print. I'm not a perfect being & I am grateful God knows this & God loves me. God is the only one that knows my heart!

    I agree what Lady Janus said:
    "No, not more people. More sense. That's what we need."

  3. Anonymous: The difference is that you have replaced yourselves. Your two children prove that you are exceptional as the average is less than that. I'm not calling for a return to the 20+ children of previous generations, but you've got to admit that the fact a growing number (now a majority) are not choosing to replace themselves speaks poorly to our obligation to those that follow us.

    Fr. Tim

  4. I see what you mean Fr. Tim but for me I did not abort babies but the pressure to be on natural family planning or using other birth control drove me crazy.

    A husband wants a wife he can get near to not one that sees him only to produce babies. I had major paranoia & a mental breakdown.

    Somehow I got mentally better after that issue of not wanting babies after giving birth to two wanted children & loved. Our children are all grown up & adults today & are doing well. Thank God!

    I think a priest like you Fr. Tim do not understand hat it is to be a woman. The Catholic Church puts so much pressure on us females.

    I thank God my husband understood & we still have a long marriage. We are not perfect but God loves us.

  5. Anonymous: You are truly blessed to have found such a kind and compassionate husband. I too am blessed to have generous souls like you who are willing to educate me about things I cannot have first hand knowledge and experience of.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I promise not to forget the wisdom you have shared with me.

    Fr. Tim

  6. "'ve got to admit that the fact a growing number (now a majority) are not choosing to replace themselves speaks poorly to our obligation to those that follow us."

    Sorry, Tim. Coming from someone who has deliberately set himself apart from "replacing" himself (company rules notwithstanding, you knew that going in), that has a distinctly hollow ring of do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do to it, doncha think? How do you think people feel when you tell them that they must, when you won't?

    Apart from that, what "obligation" are you talking about? How can anyone be "obligated" to someone that does not yet exist? And obligated to do what, exactly?

  7. Lady Janus: The result of the failure of 'boomers' and their 'echo' to ensure that there were a sufficient number of citizens to carry the tax burden of caring for them in their old age is obligation I speak of. It is now eminently clear that the funds that governments and corporations were to guard to pay for our benefits and pensions is gone in bad debts and investments.

    One example: because of losses in this last economic crash has resulted this year in Ontario's municipalities must raise taxes to top up the OMERS pension plan by $1 billion dollars for their current obligations. Everybody's property taxes are going to jump next year... and this is only the first of many more painful jumps in the future.

    The only solution open is to open the immigration tap once again, as the country has done in the past. Our entire nation is comprised of immigrants (if East Africa is the birth place of our branch of the genetic tree). It's this, or more and more of individuals resources and savings will be taken by the government to make up the shortfall.

    Yet it is both the boomers and their progeny that are beginning to scream in alarm at the arrival of so many new comers from different countries, cultures, races and religions.

    I find it a bit ironic that the most obese generations (of which I am a worthy example,) seems to "want to have their cake and eat it too." We have made choices in life. We must now live with the consequences. If that means that culturally speaking, the taste and comfort level of people is changed in a way that they find unpleasant... all I can offer is, as we have sown, so we shall reap.

    Now, for the fact that I believe I am called to live a celibate life, I can offer two defenses. Firstly, I come from a family common in the 50's & 60's, (four kids and two parents), raised in a religiously observant Catholic family and taught to obey the rules of respect, politeness and civility. The blessing of this for me is that each of my siblings, in their turn produced at sufficient children to cover my 'family' and 'genetic' obligations.

    Further, the opportunity to share in weddings and baptisms of my extended family is proof enough for me that my entire family shares in God's blessing.

    Fr. Tim

  8. "The result of the failure of 'boomers' and their 'echo' to ensure that there were a sufficient number of citizens to carry the tax burden of caring for them in their old age is obligation I speak of."

    But my question is: whence came that "obligation?" Who was it that obligated me without asking me? And without getting my permission to speak for me? And you're of the same generation as me, so someone made that same obligation on your behalf, as well. Do you not object to the idea that some faceless, nameless politician went ahead and consigned your economic life to this path without so much as a by-your-leave? You say we make choices in life. But our choices have been severely limited by those who spoke on our behalf without asking. You and I did not make those choices for our lives -- complete strangers did that. And I most vehemently object!

    No need to "defend" your choice, Tim. I wasn't criticising your choice of career (and if that's how I came across, I apologize for my clumsiness). I was simply observing that when a priest told me that I "had an obligation to bring children into the world for the sake of the Church" (as one tried to do, many, many years ago {and I sincerely hope he's since recovered from the verbal blistering I laid on him, poor fellow} I first pointed out that he who says must first demonstrate the willingness to do, or I pay no attention. There appears to be two levels of rules and compliance within your religion --- one rule for the lawgivers, and one for the followers. How are people raised on the ideals of democracy supposed to react when someone lays rules on their lives that they, themselves, do not follow?

    "Yet it is both the boomers and their progeny that are beginning to scream in alarm at the arrival of so many new comers from different countries, cultures, races and religions."

    Not me. Or anyone with whom I'm friends. I live in one of the most culturally and religiously diverse cities in the country -- possibly on the entire continent -- and I think the mosaic lifestyle is probably the best thing we as a species can do for ourselves, and on a personal level, I am an enthusiastic participant. On an impersonal level, I think that cultural isolationism is a form of inbreeding; sooner or later, the form loses its ability to hold, and the entire species could die out, simply for lack of willingness to embrace and accept one another's differences.

  9. Lady Janus: I appreciate your patience. Thanks!

    Whence came the obligation? I guess it's part of the social contract of our country and culture. Our government promises a level of medical and financial support to guarantee a certain quality of life. We spent our money... and then did not ensure that there would at least be enough other tax payers behind us to cover the costs.

    You paid taxes to cover your parents as their generation was the won that birthed the programmes but were unable to pay enough in to pay for all their costs. We paid higher taxes in the 50's & 60's to ensure that the pension funds were large enough to pay for us. Then with all the emphasis on tax cutting over the past few decades (from Reagan onward through Mike Harris in Ontario, Ralph Klein in Alberta and your current Liberal premier), governments paid for tax cuts and increased government spending by 'borrowing' from their pension funds. Corporations did the same thing which is why the Nortel employees are suing everyone they can find who stole their pension money.

    One last point. I agree with Canada's genius has been founded in its ability to assume large waves of immigrants into itself in an atmosphere of peace and prosperity. We will do it again, but not without some of the fears and prejudices directed at the new arrivals. After all, it's one thing to integrate into a city; it's another thing in our smaller cities and towns. Multiculturalism is hardly the accurate description of rural and semi-rural Canada. We're in perhaps for some societal stormy waters, but I believe we'll work our way through it again.

    As I've wrote before, never under-estimate the seduction of our consumerist society when it comes to cleaving people away from many generations of orthodox religious practice and belief.

    Fr. Tim

  10. Pyramid schemes: when individuals do it, they can go to prison. But when governments do it, it's a social program. That's my beef with it. And I'm absolutely convinced that it needs to be stopped in its tracks.

    Nortel ex-employees (and I have a couple of friends who used to work there) at least have a chance of getting some satisfaction out of a lawsuit, even if it's only the public humiliation of the idiots who screwed them out of their pensions. But when it's your government that has gambled your life away long before you were born, what kind of remedy do you have?

  11. "Fr. Tim Moyle said...
    "Anonymous: You are truly blessed to have found such a kind and compassionate husband. I too am blessed to have generous souls like you who are willing to educate me about things I cannot have first hand knowledge and experience of.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. I promise not to forget the wisdom you have shared with me."

    Fr. Tim, thank you for your kind words.

    I recall watching a TV movie about Paul John Paul II. In the movie the Pope visits the United States. In one part there were demonstrations against the Pope. While the Pope was inside a certain room he was speaking to another priest there. He shared with this clergy that he was concern about all the protesters especially the ones about Woman's Rights in the Church. This clergy friend of his replied something like this:

    'your Holiness, maybe it is just difficult to understand what it is to be a woman.'

    It was short & sweet but I recall saying to myself..finally somebody said something smart!

    I realize it's only a movie.


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