Q. Child out of Wedlock

Q. My sister is looked down on at church because she has a baby and isn’t married. It’s not her fault that he left, and she didn’t have an abortion. I don’t know why people look down on her, and I’d like to know how to fix that.

A. Praise be to God that your sister did not have an abortion! She deserves to be honored for making the right decision. I’m sure you will continue to do all you can to help her know that! I’ve talked to many women who made the wrong choice and opted for the abortion. When this is the decision made, it always leaves the person with an emptiness and sense of deep regret. So she should be very much at peace for choosing to let her baby come into this world.

Let me address the first part of what you said by making a distinction. You say that your “sister is looked down on at the church.” The distinction I want to make is the difference between those individuals who are a part of the Church and the Church Herself.

First of all, when we speak of “the Church,” we can mean various things. Properly speaking, the Church is made up of all those who are members of Christ’s body on earth, in Heaven, and in Purgatory. On earth, we have those who are laity, religious, and ordained.

Let’s start with those members of the Church in Heaven. These members, the saints, most certainly do not look down upon your sister. Instead, they pray for her and all of us continuously. They are the true models of how we should live and are what we should strive to imitate.

As for those on earth, we are all still sinners but are hopefully striving to be saints. Unfortunately, sometimes our sins get in the way of true Christian charity, and we can make unfair judgments of others. If that is what has happened to your sister, this is unfortunate and the sad result of individuals’ sins.

A further distinction, which is very important to make, is that of the “official position of the Church” regarding its teaching. It’s true that we believe the ideal plan of God for a child is that he/she be born into a loving family with two parents. This is what God intended, but we know that it is not always the situation we find in life. But it’s also very important to point out that the official teaching of the Church would never imply that anyone should look down on your sister regarding her goodness, dignity, and especially her choice to have her child. If the child was born out of wedlock, then we do disagree with extramarital sexual relations, but that in no way should be taken to mean that we look down on your sister personally and certainly not on her child. She will have unique challenges raising her child as a single mother, but that child is always looked at as a child of God and a gift from God who deserves all the love and respect we can offer.

So please know that, properly speaking, the Church would never look down upon your sister or her child. Instead, we thank God for this child and for your sister’s commitment to raising this child as a gift from God.

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