Two Letters

17 April 2010 | The Tablet

I hope these two letters explain themselves. They were published virtually unchanged.

Poverty and Population

Archbishop Nichols believes that “If we solve the poverty then consistently we know that the birth rate comes down”, and Chris Bain, Director of Cafod says “Cafod believes that poverty is the key issue to be addressed before contraception is considered.” (Nichols questoned about artificial birth control. 10 April) For decades, this has been the Catholic approach. The governments of many poor countries have taken a different approach.

In the Far East, country after country, while still as poor as African countries, started to control their population growth. They are becoming prosperous. In sub-Saharan Africa, where, I understand, nearly half of the health care, education and social services is provided by Catholics, rapid population growth continues, and extreme poverty remains.

If we wait until prosperity is established before tackling population growth, we will wait forever, and population control will once again be left to disease, famine, and war. A reduction in the birth rate in poor countries needs strong governmental or organizational enthusiasm for family planning, or it will never happen. Populorum Progressio, paragraph 37, points the way.

Gerald Danaher

(Paragraph 37 of Populorum Progressio can be found towards the end of “Demography for Catholics.” This famous Encyclical of Pope Paul VI was dated 26th March 1967. It is still quoted with approval in many Catholic publications, though paragraph 37 is usually not mentioned. There is a division of opinion in the Catholic Church as to what methods of family planning are allowable. The Vatican takes one view and the majority of Catholics take another.)

29th April 2010 / Leicester Mercury

The Conservative Party’s Green Paper, One World Conservatism states: “With the exception of a few oil-rich states, no country has risen from poverty without lowering their birth rates.” That is true. Even oil-rich states will eventually become poor if they do not lower their birth rate.

Unfortunately, over the last forty years, fear of accusations of veiled racism has prevented politicians, religious leaders, and aid agencies from advocating the provision of family planning for the poor in Africa and elsewhere. Consequently, Africans and others have been denied the effective family planning upon which our own prosperity depends, and their poverty has continued or worsened. It is consoling to find a political party publishing a truth that brings no votes.