Vatican tells UN: poverty is not caused by the population bomb

ROME – Talk of an “impending population bomb,” the Vatican’s representative to the United Nations said on Wednesday, has led to sometimes “draconian” policies, which ignore the complex nature of population growth.

Filipino Archbishop Bernardito Auza, speaking to the UN’s Commission on Population and Development, said “differing regional and even country specific situations” need to be taken into account when speaking about demographic changes.

Auza noted that populations are growing in some countries, while stabilizing in others, but pointed out some countries are experiencing a “spiraling demographic decline.”

Auza’s reference to a “population bomb” is a reference to the 1968 book of the same title written by Stanford professor Paul R. Ehrlich, who predicted that by the 1980s mass starvation and other consequences of food shortages caused by overpopulation would lead to social upheavals across the world.

Despite the inaccuracy of his forecasts, Ehrlich still supports the central thesis of his work: Massive government population control measures, including artificial birth control and abortion, are needed to protect the planet’s future.

Ehrlich was controversially invited to a conference earlier this year on Pope Francis’s ecological document Laudato Si’, sponsored by the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences.

Auza said the idea of a “population bomb” has led certain governments to adopt policies that encourage population control measures as the easiest response to the fear of resource scarcity and underdevelopment, adding that some of these policies are “draconian.”

The most obvious example of such a policy would be in China, where a “one child” policy has led to forced abortions, and the limiting of civil rights for anyone who has more children than the government allows.

The archbishop, while not naming Ehrlich in his address, countered his arguments by saying “demographic growth is fully compatible with shared prosperity.”

Auza said while “responsible parenthood and sexual behavior are always moral imperatives,” the use of “coercive regulation of fertility” undermines freedom and responsibility. Continue reading




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