The Ruth Institute held another Healing Family Breakdown Retreat this past weekend. As I listen to people share their stories of family breakdown, a procession of past encounters marches through my memory. People tell me their stories, and not just at times appointed for this purpose, like the Retreat. I recall:
- a college student in tears at our student conference: “Dr. Morse, you are the first adult I have ever heard say that divorce is hard on children.”
- a middle-aged man whom I met at a party. He later told me that his mother (who had been married and divorced multiple times) recently revealed to him that she had had an abortion when he was in high school. The man was in shock over the loss of a sibling.
- a woman in her sixties ran out of my talk at a conference. At the dinner that evening, she shared with me, that my talk stirred up the pain of her parents’ divorce.
- a man who has been married and divorced twice, confided that he and his former wife had a child through IVF. The child is now a teenager. He has agonized for years over what to do with the 10 “leftover” frozen embryos. He would have to get the consent of his former wife, the mother of the embryos, for anything he might want to do. “When you are trying so hard to have a baby, they don’t tell you that you may end up killing babies.”
- a couple on their second marriage, who had both chosen to sterilize themselves during their first marriages. Both were in tears, because they now wanted children with each other. They were Catholic and finally realized that the Church teachese that deliberate sterilization is sinful. “No one told me it was wrong,” they each said through their tears.
And that, for me, is the bottom line: no one tells people the down-sides of any aspect of our Brave New World. “No one told me it was wrong.”
Memo to priests and catechists: You are not hurting people to tell them “it is wrong.” You may be saving them from tremendous heart-ache. And incidently, you are doing your job.