Across our oversexualized culture, we see the continued fallout of the sexual revolution. It's not…
The other day was sort of my 20th college reunion from The Catholic University of America. I say sort of for a number of reasons: I graduated early, and I didn’t actually realize the reunion was happening until I saw photos on Facebook. But the timing could not have been better. While I missed seeing people at the reunion, I couldn’t have been happier to call CUA my alma mater than I was this month.
One of the professors there, Catherine Ruth Pakaluk, had just started a Twitter trend. Why am I so excited about something on social media? Because it was creative, and it had impact. She decided to respond to the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, who managed to demean women who have many children during a speech at a Gates Foundation event in New York. He said: “I always say: ‘Present me the woman who decided, being perfectly educated, to have seven, eight or nine children.’”
Pakaluk’s instinct was: “Hey, wait, I exist, and my family is not the product of ignorance.” Pakaluk — who got her doctorate from Harvard — tweeted a picture of her with six of her eight children sitting alongside her in her academic robes. She encouraged others to do the same. And they did.
Laraine Bennett tweeted: “Family just might be my greatest joy, a glimpse of heaven. MA in philosophy takes a very backseat to 4 kids on earth, 2 in heaven.” Kristin Gomez posted a photo with her six children with the note: “All mine, last one at 42 and wish I could still have more. Phi Beta Kappa from UVA in ’91.” Another woman posted a photo of a child’s wedding and wrote: “I joined twitter just to send a #postcardsforMacron. The photos of other families inspired me! B.S. in Nutrition but 7 kids all educated with some working on advanced degrees. One in heaven, 2 married, 1 grandchild with 2 more coming! So thankful!”
Husbands joined in. One declared: “My wife has a Ph.D. in music and was once a college professor. This is her best work.”
This all happened in the days before John Paul II’s Oct. 22 feast day. It was hard not to have his encyclical Evangelium Vitae in mind. In it he wrote: “In transforming culture so that it supports life, women occupy a place, in thought and action, which is unique and decisive. It depends on them to promote a ‘new feminism’ which rejects the temptation of imitating models of ‘male domination,’ in order to acknowledge and affirm the true genius of women in every aspect of the life of society, and overcome all discrimination, violence and exploitation.”
He also addressed the importance of women’s voices and talked about the power of mercy in the lives of women who have had abortions — these are some of his most beautiful words, but there are so many.
John Paul II visited CUA in 1979. Neither Catherine nor I were old enough to be engaged with the visit, but I can’t help but think that had he been visiting this year, he would have been delighted with the parade of motherhood and families one of the professors there led.
Our eternal homecoming is going to be judged on how we treated the home, how we welcomed and embraced and supported family life. Not everyone needs to have many children. That’s not everyone’s call. But the witness of those who are this open to life is essential to our cultural healing. Catherine Pakaluk has the right idea in taking joy in her vocation as mother and encouraging more, too. These are the leaders we need for our healing. We all have our roles, but never tire of sharing the greatest gifts God has given you.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, editor-at-large of National Review and co-author of “How to Defend the Faith Without Raising Your Voice” (OSV, $17.95).