Recently much has been written about the effects of divorce on children by children of divorce themselves, who now, as adults, are putting to the test the conventional opinion that children are better served by a “good divorce” than a bad marriage. In light of their direct experience of divorce (whether their parents’ parting was amicable or not), they have begun to identify their deepest wound: namely, that of existing by virtue of a unity that no longer wishes to exist.
Relatedly, there is much being written by children who have come into the world by virtue of a dis-embodied unity via Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs). They, too, are asking probing questions about their origins, which in their case, more often than not, intentionally severed the link with at least one of their parents.
Each of these wounds has had an unquestionable role in setting the stage for yet another wound, that of depriving children not only of one or both of their biological parents, but also of sexual difference in their upbringing, through same-sex unions and attempts to re-define marriage to include these. The long practice of divorce―together with contraception and “companionate marriage”― accustomed us to put into question the once-inalienable link between marriage and children. It then became possible to think that marriage could include any two loving individuals, even if they by definition could not conceive and bear children. The support of these childless−by−definition unions led ironically―and we think tragically―to the normalization of ARTs on the grounds that the parties in these new arrangements had the right to “have” children, being “married.” The multi-dimensional origin of our coming to be―the embodied, sexually differentiated unity of our parents―is quickly being unraveled; and we are convinced that this will come at a high cost to our children and to ourselves.
In the face of these three “original” issues at the origin of human life, the OCPF endeavors to probe ultimate questions concerning the truth of the human person, love, and marriage. The child who has been deprived of one or more of the constitutive factors of his coming to be, raises fundamental questions about human identity and its relation to a source other than himself. At the very same time, he raises questions about love itself and the intimate connections between freedom, happiness, fidelity and fruitfulness.
The question about the origin we have in our parents is a question for all of us, and not only because all of us can attest to some failure suffered there. Those failures great and small are themselves the occasion for asking about a deeper origin. We are not, in the end, our parents’ children, simply; since their embodied, sexually differentiated unity is itself a token of the Eternity of which they are images. The very reason why divorce, recourse to ARTs, and attempts to jettison sexual difference are tragic, then, is the same reason why these are not ultimately so. There is another Father − “Our Father who art in heaven” − who now at the depths of our wounds becomes a healing Presence, in His Son, the Image. “Deep calls unto Deep,” as the Psalmist said.
It is with all of this in mind that we propose to recover our origins.