I understand that Covid was scary for a lot of people but when exactly do parishioners intend on leaving the mask at home? My local church is quite small and like many churches there are more people there aged over 50 than under. There are some families with young children, but it certainly is not chock-a-block with them which has me thinking; if Catholics obeyed the Church’s rules on family planning as strictly as they did government health dictates on Covid, there would be a lot more toddlers toddling around this church.
In fact, the truth is I strongly, strongly object to masks at Mass and I feel that the powers that be – the Bishops, I assume – should now be encouraging the faithful to leave them at home. Amazingly, the Church is now one of the few places where we are subjected to this attack on our humanity and I’d rather my four kids were not surrounded by mask wearers.
I am grateful that all my fellow Mass-goers are very friendly to my children, often kindly chatting to them, but this charity is severely hindered by mask-wearing. Masks spread fear and, in truth, I would rather people kept their fear to themselves. That is what you are doing when you surround children with mask wearers – telling them to be fearful. Jesus told us many times: “be not afraid”.
It troubles me how the church and the faithful were such sticklers for masks and remain so. Do these people continue to wear them in shops and transport, or do they just cover their faces in church? We already know children’s language skills have been hindered by masks and lockdowns, and babies especially rely on seeing the human face made in the image of God to develop language and social skills. These even small interactions in Mass instead of being a joyful give-and-take between the older generation and the next, are now covered and hindered by mask-wearing. Instead of joy and hope, there is fear.
I do think there are some tough questions to be asked as to why the faithful were incredibly eager to follow whatever the public health authorities told them about Covid, yet, on the whole, ignore church teachings when it comes to family planning. The fertility rate in Britain continues to decline, reaching all-time lows. It is certainly not the case that Catholic families buck the trend. They are very much representative of the country as whole.
As a result, these days, having more than two children is considered odd, three is just about permitted and four or more is positively frowned upon (I have been blessed with four). In fact, so common is the two-child family, I now refer to it as the “unofficial two child policy.” Where once an only child was considered rare, now they often outnumber the children with siblings in a class room.
So, we must ask ourselves: why are Catholics refusing to have larger families? It is true that raising a family is now harder than ever – housing costs continue to climb and the cost of living crisis will squeeze families even harder. Sadly, the next generation faces even more debt and more demands on their time and resources so things are unlikely to improve in the future. But Catholics should be front and centre in demanding more family friendly polices from the government. This government turned our lives upside down for Covid: they could at least improve things for families if there was enough public pressure and will for them to do so. The more families shrink in size, the worse the economic and social conditions will be for those families left behind.
If there is one thing we as Catholics know it is that children are a blessing. They are not something to fear, either as a bio-weapon that will kill granny, or as a huge financial drain that you could not possibly provide for. The needs of children have been utterly ignored in the last two years. This must end and it could start with the simple action of interacting with them at Mass – face to face.
Laura Perrins in co-founder and co-editor of The Conservative Woman
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