Fr Arthur McCormack

1 October 2000 | (Radically altered 2012.)

From 1960 to 1990, Fr Arthur McCormack was the best Catholic expert on the problem of population increase. At first, as described in his book “PEOPLE SPACE FOOD”, in answering anxieties about the “population explosion”, he relied on improvements in agriculture and on the large empty spaces in various parts of the world, to support his view that population increase was not such a great problem.

Later his views changed and he championed the need for family planning and the need to moderate population growth. The Times obituary on January 2 1993 records this change and also his involvement with the early days of the Commission for Justice and Peace:

“At the third session of the Vatican Council in 1964, McCormack organized a meeting in Rome which had far-reaching consequences. He brought together a group that included Barbara Ward, Mgr Gremillion (an American writer on world poverty) and Mgr Liguti (Vatican observer to the Food and Agriculture Organization). The result was to canalise the wish of the council for a World Poverty Secretariat into a specific recommendation, drafted by McCormack, calling on the church to set up an organization to promote progress in the world’s poorer areas and to foster social justice between the nations.

Following the report, Pope Paul VI published his apostolic letter Catholicam Christi Ecclesiam on January 7, 1967. He then decided to establish the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace. Mgr Gremillion was named secretary and McCormack joined him as his assistant the following April. He remained there for six years until it became clear that his views on the problems of world population were an embarrassment to the Holy See.”