The Catholic Church – The Economist Reviews

2 February 2001

This week’s Economist devotes three pages to a sympathetic review of the present state of The Catholic Church – giving its worldwide readership the regularly expressed views of the Newsletter, but in a much better and more readable form.

After introducing the reason for the church’s existence (“grace and salvation” “This is all that matters.”) it goes on to describe the church’s impact on the world, especially the third world. It praises the efforts at practical help, whilst taking a minor swipe at the anti-capitalists, and a major swipe at the birth control ruling. Here are two short quotes to show what The Economist thinks about Catholics and their approach to worldly problems.

“It inspires much charity and social action (if also, sometimes, a blinkered anti-capitalism.)”

“In the sphere of international policy, the birth-control ruling still marks out the church as an irresponsible and obstructionist voice in any debate on over-population, poverty or, especially, the containment of AIDS. This is a tragedy, since in parts of the developing world, the church is often the prime provider of health, education and social services. (In Nigeria alone, it runs almost 300 clinics and hospitals.) The essential work of Catholic doctors and teachers is now undermined by the perception, often untrue, that they will put ideology first.”

These are the views of the Newsletter as well: they apply to Zambia, as much as to any other third world country. What we can do about the blinkered anti-capitalism and the birth-control ruling, I do not know. Wait for someone to write a blockbuster of a book with facts piled high on facts, I expect.

In the meantime, although Catholic theological views may be minor or major causes of poverty, we can be consoled by the fact that, at providing the very poor with practical help, Catholics are the best in the world: in my view, by a very long way.

Page 2 is taken up with a review of world population, taken from the Encyclopaedia Britannica. You may have had it before, but it is a good overview and it’s worth a second read.