The Church has definitively spoken: no artificial birth control, no artificial birth control mentality. With artificial birth control the married couple is not able to completely give themselves to each other, as the fullest outward expression of their marital love, a child, is not the natural expectation of the marital act when occuring within the confines of birth control objects or methods. Christian marriage is ordained by God to the fruitful multiplication of children, not just any children, but children who will be taught Christian righteousness by their parents in the Christian home, the first source of evangelization. This is what I at least understand the Church’s teaching to be in a nutshell. In short, the Church regards the use of artificial birth control or using a birth control mentality (even alongside a legitimate method, such as NFP) as contrary to the natural law, and contrary to the divine law. To violate either of these is to sin.
Now, today, there are few who doubt that in Western nations to raise a large family is difficult, financially and personally. In America, the support network of surrounding family members (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.) is much less than in past generations, due to family spreading, and also not in small part due to shrinking family units. In addition, today society expects women to have standing jobs more than ever before. Prices and budgets are coordinated towards the expectation that women, if they work, as they are expected to, and have children, will only be on maternity leave for a certain period of time.
Stay at home moms are statistically rare or infrequent in urban and suburban centers. And where they are to be found the even moderate income of a husband oftentimes strains the family budget. Even if the husband can provide enough with his budget to sustain a large family, does each member of the family throughout his or her upbringing really receive the proper medical, material and educational care that is worthy of his or her own dignity as a human person?
Now, I am sure there are parents out there who are saying: we had 10 kids, and we were able to provide for every one of them! And I know that parents, even with a mere pittance, have been able to successfully raise children. But I also know parents who, because their jobs pay too little, are unable to provide certain certain care (such as dental, medical) for their children. In fact, I know that, at abortion clinics, one popular reason for abortion is along the lines of “she’s already had 4, we can’t provide for another.” I imagine that, even with tax breaks and some assistance from outside charities, the larger families still have difficulties in providing needs for each of the numerous children. Many families move away from the cities, to places where one can find a lower cost of living. But what if family-sustaining jobs are not found in these areas?
There are so many factors. Ultimately, my question is: If the Church comes down so firmly against birth control, should it not also in charity ask its more prosperous members in their love for the Church to provide support for those large families so that they might better thrive? It has done so for buildings, why not for living stones? Would it not in fact be charitable and have special collections for those Catholic families which, in their desire to live by what the Church teaches, have a large number of children, and yet find it extremely difficult, for one reason or another, to provide for them? In the early Church there was a distribution for the widows who could not adequately provide for themselves. Should not the Church apply this principle today to large Catholic families in which the parents are only acting according to what they know is right and true but which are plighted by the great struggles, financial and personal, they face?
At the university I attend, there is a ministry for moms in which Catholic students assist mothers with the the struggles of raising children. The group, locally, is a great success. Should not the Church advocate groups like ministry for moms on a more universal basis, and provide the funds for them in a specific, annual and universal Church collection, promulgated from Rome itself?