Bishop Says “Mentality of Sterility” is Behind Crisis of Family Life

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

Bishop James V. Johnston of Missouri says a “mentality of sterility” is the main factor in the present crisis of family life.

In a report by the Catholic News Agency (CNA), Bishop Johnston of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau was speaking at a Sept. 26 workshop of the Missouri Catholic Conference when predicted that a renewal of the family and the Church can take place only after Catholics rediscover their “call to fruitfulness.”

All love “tends toward an incarnation” and requires the “daily cultivation of the soul” in holiness, the bishop said. “It is a call that we must respond to anew each day to God’s question, ‘Where are you?’”

Bishop Johnston said family life is now in crisis because it is formed in a mentality of sterility. “And we might even say the sacrament of this attitude is contraception within marriage.”

Family life, and by extension the culture and the Church, “will only be renewed when the ‘domestic church’ rediscovers its call to fruitfulness at every level,” he noted.

According to the St. Louis Review, while answering questions after his talk, Bishop Johnston said marriage is a hard life because things happen that are not expected. What is needed is a correct vision of love, marriage and the family.

“This is at the heart of the meaning of life. This is the key to saving marriage.  It is how the Church can save the world — we start with the family,” he said.

True love is freely given, total and without conditions, he said, faithful to the end and fruitful. “Jesus reveals that and reveals it on the cross.” 

The Bishop also said that in many dioceses, the number of sacramental marriages is decreasing even as the number of Catholics increase.

To embrace the Christian vocation, one must first be a disciple, he said. Marriage and family is “where one learns the discipleship of Christ and learns to say yes to God.”

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