Single mothers are saints

John Kleinsman - single mothers

Some time ago I found myself on the fringes of a group of Catholics discussing the impending birth of a baby to a teenage girl.

I detected just the faintest whiff of scandal in the air – nothing said, but plenty implied.

I quipped: “Isn’t that great.”

Faces turned, eyes probing. “

Isn’t it great that she is keeping the baby? Most girls and their families would have organised an abortion.”

These days, any single mother who decides to keep her baby is a heroine … even a saint.

Ironically, for those who identify as Catholic, greater courage may be required if they find themselves fighting not only a prevailing negative cultural attitude but, sadly, the critical judgements of the very community that should provide unquestioning, unconditional support.

These judgements are no less damaging for being non-verbal.

Consider the story of Katrina who, at 19, found herself unexpectedly pregnant.

“To say this news was unexpected would be an understatement.

“I went into shock … Mark cried … To us, this was a disaster.

“Everything we had planned, everything we were working towards was shattered …

“We knew our parents would be severely disappointed and that mine might actually disown me.

“We were both from religious families and most of our friends were religious – WE were religious.

“We felt that all our friends were likely to judge or even not be our friends anymore.

“We didn’t know what to do. Keeping the baby would mean potential ostracism from our friends and Church community. Not having the baby would mean going through with a termination, but escaping all the shame and our lives trotting on as planned …”

As Catholics, we need to honestly ask: ‘How many young single Catholic women and their partners and/or families would feel like Katrina did about her faith community – whether parish or school?’ Continue reading

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