The Pope Thinks You’re Arrogant

I was dozing off this afternoon for a nap with the TV softly playing in the background, when a news correspondent uttered a word that snapped me back to full alert:  infertility.

Pope Benedict has attended a 3-day conference on infertility in Rome and has one piece of advice for couples: shun IVF treatment. 

Most couples do, indeed, already do this.  They are super fertile as they have so shown the world.  Many other couples have trouble, but manage to conceive by drugs or surgery.  Yet others shun infertility because they simply cannot afford it.   But, the Pope has other reasons why a couple should refrain from artificial procedures:

“The human and Christian dignity of procreation, in fact, doesn’t consist in a ‘product’, but in its link to the conjugal act, an expression of the love of the spouses of their union, not only biological but also spiritual,” the ‘Daily Mail’ quoted Pope Benedict XVI as saying.

He also told the specialists in his audience to resist “the fascination of the technology of artificial fertility’, warning against “easy income, or even worse, the arrogance of taking the place of the Creator”.

He suggested that this was the attitude that underlies the field of artificial procreation. The emphasis on science and “the logic of profit seem today to dominate the field of infertility and human procreation”, the Pope said.

I feel like these words are a slap in the face to anyone who has ever suffered through this disease.  These words coming from a spiritual, well-respected man only add salt to the wound. 

I have said it once and I will say it again:  I did not choose this!  It happened to me.  I bet the same can be said of you all as well.

The Pope’s words are demeaning on so many levels, I do not even know where to start.  Does the Pope really think that I seek the help of an RE and artificial inseminations because I am merely fascinated with technology?  Am I just bored or something?  Does he really think that I prefer needles, medicines, ultrasounds, blood work, and inseminations over “conjugal relations” with my husband?     Am I so “fascinated” with technology that I can’t wait to fork over money for an IVF?  I think the Pope thinks so. 

The Pope’s words also imply that I haven’t tried to do things the natural way with my husband.  Newsflash:  we’ve tried it that way for over two years!  We tried it last month and we tried it this month.  Yeah, just have sex and you’ll get pregnant.  Relax and it will happen!  Sound familiar, anyone? 

The most damning implication here is that people who have IVF’s or other procedures lack faith, do not persevere,  and do not trust God.  Yeah, try telling this to the infertile couple who have spent years in prayer, begging God for that one special blessing.  Has the Pope ever considered that God leads couples (some Catholics, I’m sure) to and through the path of IVF?  Can God not work through science?  The only thing I find arrogant here is the Pope’s limitations he seems to be placing on God.  I can’t quote the Bible verse, but I’m pretty sure limiting God is a big no-no, no matter what your denomination or rank in religion.

I can’t help but think of all those babies born because of IVF procedures.  Those babies and those mothers who fought with every ounce of their being just to bring their children into the world.   God did not say to those women, “Your ovaries are bad, so forget it!”  He did not say, “Oh, your faith isn’t 100% perfect, so you lose.”    He knew that those women cried, prayed, and endured and he answered those prayers in the way he saw fit.  Most importantly, he knew those women were not trying to play God but merely had enough faith to walk down a path that was unfamiliar and frightening to them.

In my opinion, IVF and other procedures simply level the playing field.  We all have the right to create our families.  We may not have been blessed with working equipment, correct hormone levels, and a perfect reproductive system, like most people on the planet.  It is our absolute right and privilege to try to make things as they should be without suffering the judgement and scorn of others.     

These days, I’m trying my best to stay positive, although that’s hard to do.  Stories like this really negatively affect me because it reinforces the idea that society just does not understand.  But that’s ok.  The Pope will never have to walk in my shoes as most people won’t.  I have to hold on to the faith that I have even it is the size of a mustard seed.


21 responses to this post.

  1. I was just talking about this same topic with my natropath the other day. It is funny – here in Canada – Quebec is the only province that will cover 3 IVF treatments for couples. Yet Quebec is deemed to be the most catholic province in the country!


  2. Dear Pope… I promise you that my RE is not in it to compete with God to see who can produce more babies! He is just a good man with a talent for the reproductive sciences who wants to help couples become parents! I believe in and trust God… so much so that I don’t think He/She would have let science come so far if He was just going to frown down on all of the labs where little lives and miracles are being created every day. I’m pretty sure I remember a little saying from the bible that goes, “…go forth and multiply!” He didn’t say anything about His feelings on HOW that should or should not be achieved. Sorry Pope. I’m gonna have to disagree.


  3. Well said! Thank you for sharing. It really is unbelievable how judgemental the world is of infertility…without knowing, without trying to comprehend what we experience each day. I believe that God is soooo much bigger than all this. This is not a black and white issue. There are certainly ethical and moral considerations, like in most things…but each couple battles through their own journey and that is between them and their God…not the Pope or any other governing or religious body.


  4. Posted by veetamia on February 26, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    Wow this is incredible (not the good kind)! So, what about all the other technology that we as a society use to help increase our life expectancy, cure diseases, let us live longer?? I’m pretty sure the Pope has an excellent health care team at his service – shouldn’t he ban those procedures b/c they go against God’s plans for us, if we get sick and that’s our path to take, then we should do so and not seek help ??? I am Catholic, but crap like these makes me pull away from wanting to be there 100%
    Thank you for sharing!!


  5. I can’t even begin to describe how I feel towards this. The anger is too intense. I am a spiritual person and have strong belief in God. But it doesn’t make sense to me that God would be angry at me for using IVF to get the chance to raise one of his children. Does that not show that I am willing to do anything for my child? That I have struggled for years to overcome a challenge in my life? Is that not what I am suppose to be doing with my life? Oh wait, it is just because I think it’s cool. Never mind. *anger*


  6. Posted by chon1203 on February 26, 2012 at 8:47 pm

    I don’t want to reply with a I HATE GOD comment because that is infantile. But at times like this it reinforces my belief that there is no God. Maybe because of the horrible stuff people say in his name.

    You are so right. People who go through IVF and other treatments don’t do it because they like random strangers seeing their hoo ha and going through invasive treatments because they don’t spiritually love their husband. Trust me ole Popie I experienced the conjugal act numerous times but it just didn’t work. Not once.

    Does this mean that specialist in other fields that save peoples lives but charge ridiculous rates for doing so are also bad?

    Why can’t people just be nice?


  7. Ugh this makes me so sad. Of course people would make babies the natural way if they could! And you know what, Pope, without IVF, many people would remain childless who may not want to be, and as far as I’m concerned, making babies is like making love, and Jesus and the bible say that love is the greatest thing of all. I can’t help but think that if there is a God, he is a huge proponent of scientific advances to help people make more babies, why wouldn’t He be?!


  8. I believe that it’s God who gave scientists the ability to come up with ART in the first place.


  9. I agree with Kat that babies conceived through ART are conceived with love. We’ve invested a lot more love in the process than the parents of a baby conceived through a one night stand or in the back of a car.


  10. Ugh, its things like this that give the rest of us Christians a bad name. I am religious and I believe that IVF is totally within the parameters of faith. I’m sure there are people in my church who disagree, but I don’t care. I hate it when people speak as though they are the mouth-piece for God, when they are just human like the rest of us!


  11. I think you put it very well. I read about the Pope’s statement yesterday on a German IF doctor’s blog. Statements like that really make me angry. I was raised a Catholic but basically broke with the church sometime in my teens because of its stance towards women, women’s rights, the use of condoms (both for contraception and to prevent STDs) and other things I cared about.
    My mother-in-law keeps nagging me to “return to the flock”, which I would never do, since my reasons for leaving are still valid. But now, the Pope gave me a good retort: “The Pope doesn’t want my pregnancy to exist, doesn’t want your grandchild to be born – just because it was created with the help of IVF.”
    And how dare he question the love a couple pursuing ART has for each other? Without love, you will never be able to walk this path!


  12. You would think the Catholic church would be all about creating more little Catholics. I think the decision to condemn this process will only lead to more disenchantment with Catholicism.


  13. Hi,

    This is the second time I’m commenting on your blog through ICLW, but I’m absolutely flabbergasted by this revelation. Says a lot about Catholic attitudes, but is still really unbelievable, in an age where Catholics are still touting procreation.

    Best wishes,



  14. As if all of us don’t wish that a simple act of love with our husbands was enough to bring our babies into the world. Instead, one simple act of love is not enough.

    It’s an act of love that my husband goes to a lab to give his sperm. It’s an act of love that he helps me with the shots every night. It’s an act of love to undergo surgery to retrieve my eggs. It’s an act of love that we have spent over $20,000 to TRY and bring a miniature version of ourselves into this world.

    Those statements barely scratch the surface of what “love” has caused us to do. I believe that those of us who have fought/ are fighting this battle with infertility have experienced an even deeper love than those who easily conceive. I also feel those babies born through ART are also love deeper than others could even imagine.


  15. I am not surprised that he had that to say about IVF. Which is sad. But, you outlined it quite well. Infertility is a DISEASE! And IVF is a treatment for that disease. It is not playing God, it is not an attempt to take “love” out of procreation. And what about all those teenage kids who get pregnant who aren’t truly in love with their partners? I doubt the Pope would consider that a spiritual experience. I hate that people are so judgmental over those who suffer from infertility and their choices. I truly believe that God called my husband and I to IVF… The Pope has no business telling me otherwise.

    BTW, it’s things like this that make Christians look so bad. And that is a shame.

    ICLW #97


  16. Posted by nothingifnotoptimistic on February 27, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    This makes me so livid!!! And so heartbroken! Religion and God are supposed to be about love, and what is more proof of love than going through such extremes to have a child?!! This is why I have reservations about organized religion. I believe in God and I try to live as good a life as I can, but it’s so disheartening when you see religious leaders speaking poorly of something that effects, what…. 1 in 8 couples??? He can go ahead and think of us as arrogant. I think I can live with that.


  17. I’ve thought about this for a really long time. Prayed about it a lot. In fact, it was 6 months after my husband suggested IVF before I was willing to say that I thought God was okay with it. Not because I’m Catholic at all. I’m Christian, and I have freedom in Christ to make wise decisions based on how God is leading me. That said, I didn’t want to be rushing ahead of the Lord. I didn’t want to create an Ishmael instead of waiting on my Isaac.
    And, just because we can, well, that doesn’t mean we should.

    And I really really wanted a baby. But more than that, I wanted what God had for me. And, sometimes, He says no. But is that what he was saying to me?

    So, I went to the source: God’s Word. I do not think that the Pope is anybody of any particular significance where the Lord and I are concerned. Jesus is my High Priest, and that’s pretty much it. So, I wanted to know, what does my Father say about infertility? And, that’s where He speaks: the Bible.

    I went through and found all the infertile couples listed by name and analysed all of their situations and their hearts towards God. Did you know that in every single situation where hearts loved the Lord, EVERY SINGLE ONE, that God delivered them children? There was only one instance of childless that remained in David’s first wife. And her heart burned against God and she hated seeing King David praise God. Mmm…

    So, okay, God doesn’t WANT infertility. Good to see.

    Next, and this was key for me, I looked at WHO creates. Guess who it is? It’s God. He is the absolute only creator period. No matter what. My RE can inject sperm into eggs all day long, but unless the Lord breathes life into it, it ain’t happenin!

    And, do you realise, that God displays several different methods of creation in the Bible? Initially, He creates through spoken word (Adam). Then, He creates through breath (Eve). Of course, He creates through sex. And, He creates through will (immaculate conception). He’s God. He can choose whatever means He wants to accomplish His will.

    When I realised this, it was as if God was displaying His word and will for me personally. I truly believed that He convicted me that night that He wanted me to go forward with IVF.

    So, Pope Schmope, it’s actually arrogant of YOU to assume God’s will in this area of people’s lives. Yes, there are some things God is clearly against and we can all get behind because God Himself speaks to it in His word. However, God speaks to creation and His intent of fertility in the Word. You, Pope, are bastardizing God’s word (again), and that is the biggest travesty of the whole situation.

    Just because something is hard doesn’t mean we can say it doesn’t apply to us. Sometimes the answer really is no and He leaves the thorn in our sides. It’s then that we have to turn to the Lord to let Him be enough. And that may be the case for individual couples and God’s leading them away from IVF.

    But it definitely is NOT Biblical or handling God’s word with reverence and respect to say that God is against IVF for everybody.


  18. This reminds me of the story of the man in the boat, stuck out at sea, praying to God to save him, and refusing all help that came his way because he believed his prayer was enough and God would come to his rescue.
    He ended up dying and when he passed through the heavenly gates, he asked God why he didn’t save him. God responded “I sent the coast guard, didn’t I?”

    I think it’s miraculous what can be done to help women fulfill their dreams of having a baby, and those miracles are the result of God giving man the ability to think and push forward and strive for the unimaginable.

    I believe in God, but I don’t believe in organized religion and what you wrote about the Pope’s views on infertility? That right there is the reason why.


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