Well, it’s been all quiet here on the Western Front (AKA the SF Archdiocese) so I will turn my attention elsewhere until something new and exciting appears (well, let’s face it – the opposition crowd can’t seem to muster anything new). So who shall it be? The one making it easy for me this week is the National Catholic Fishwrap. They call themselves the National Catholic Reporter. I, personally, call them a bunch of fools! If you don’t know them, count yourself lucky. If you do, you’ll notice they take a little bit of a liberty with the name Catholic. Let’s look at their latest verbal vomit scribed by Jamie Manson (http://ncronline.org/blogs/grace-margins/laudato-si-should-have-lifted-ban-contraception):
It’s been nearly a week since the much-anticipated release of Pope Francis’ encyclical on the environment. Since then, the document’s many beautiful and challenging elements have been justifiably lauded in both the religious and secular media.
Well honey, you’ve got that secular media thing down cold.
His call to replace fossil fuels is bold, his understanding of overconsumption and scarcity is prophetic, his compassion for the earth and all of its creatures is stunning. I could go on, but so many other commentators and theologians have done the work of parsing and praising the document so well that I will focus on an issue that remains woefully underdeveloped in the encyclical: overpopulation.
I say “woefully” because few people who are as concerned about ecological destruction as Francis is would deny that overpopulation is one of greatest threats to the earth’s survival.
Uh, maybe he didn’t “develop” the overpopulation myth because it is just that, a myth. Honestly, do a little teeny thing called research! Control of population has always been a part and parcel to the stripping of human rights. Do you really think that China is full to capacity and they can’t squeeze one more person in? You might want to look at a nice satellite image of China.
So, basically, what we’ve learned so far from your article is just that the Holy Father isn’t a sucker like you. How about you get a little education from the Population Research Institute. Hint: they have an area of knowledge that you don’t (https://www.lifesitenews.com/opinion/dubunking-the-over-population-myth):
In 2012, the United Nations issued a special report on the looming crisis. By 2040, the global population is expected to swell from 7 billion to 9 billion. The U.N. estimates that by 2030, the world will need at least 50 percent more food, 45 percent more energy and 30 percent more water.
If the global community fails to stabilize population growth, the report said, we risk condemning 3 billion people to extreme deprivation.
This kind of exemplifies why the UN is not only useless, but harmful. Their stats are ridiculous and again, they are shredded again and again by PRI (http://pop.org/). Back to the Fishwrap:
But the pope, who has made caring for the poor the central theme of his papacy, doesn’t seem ready to use the term “overpopulation.”
Yay, Holy Father!
In section 50 of his new encyclical, he instead refers to the crisis as an “unequal distribution of the population.” Though Francis acknowledges that “an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment,” he insists that rising population “is fully compatible with an integral and shared development.”
Francis recognizes that “imbalances in population density” can lead to “problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life.”
Nevertheless, he argues that the world doesn’t need a lower birth rate — it just needs to distribute its food better.
“To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some,” he writes, “is one way of refusing to face the issues.”
Uh, yeah! Jamie, did you know, as PRI notes, every man, woman, and child on earth could each have a half acre of arable land? Do you know the definition of arable is? Let me help you – It means land that can be farmed. EVERY SINGLE PERSON can have half an acre of farmable land. This doesn’t even include land that can be ranched or waters that can be fished! If we just want to talk land mass, every single human being from the infant on up could have 5 acres of land. These are facts you really can’t ignore, Jamie. The Pope is correct: we do have a distribution problem. Water is also not an issue, although there are a lot of idiots out there who fail to manage it well, like our own Governor Jerry Brown out here in California. He’s trying to remove the little water containment we have while spending a gazillion on a stupid train to nowhere.
Yet it could be argued just as forcefully that the hierarchy is refusing to face an issue, too. Namely, that populations are swelling in the poorest areas of the world — places where women have the least access to contraception.
I think it’s YOU who is refusing to face the issue. The Holy Father has called you out. How about you listen a bit?
According to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, more than 220 million women in developing countries “lack access to contraceptives and voluntary family planning information and services. … In 2012, an estimated 80 million women in developing countries had an unintended pregnancy; of those women, at least one in four resorted to an unsafe abortion.”
Ah, Bill and Melinda Gates – paragons of Catholicism! Bill and Melinda might want to think about how much more they could help if they focused on regimes and infrastructure vs. getting rid of those burdens (AKA babies, sick people, etc.). They are truly pathetic! They want to eliminate the poor but not poverty. It’s so sad that they look at babies, the poor and the sick as enemies.
In some of these countries, the lack of access to birth control can be traced directly to the Roman Catholic church. In the Philippines, for example, where the population is expected to swell from 100 million to 200 million by 2080, the hierarchy spent 15 years fighting the Reproductive Health Bill, which promised to give poor women access to family planning methods like intrauterine devices and the birth control pill. Sections of the bill finally passed into law last year. (Watch this recent report on “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” to see the plight of poor Filipino mothers and the impact of the new law.)
Rather than acknowledging the ways in which access to contraception has alleviated both poverty and ecological stress in countries like Thailand, Francis instead criticizes wealthier countries that “make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of ‘reproductive health.’ ” (Note the dubious quotation marks he places around the phrase.)
Oh, Jamie, did you once ever think all of these steps are to help women and their children? Should we really continue to harm women with IUDs and birth control pills? Have you bothered to research the health issues surrounding them? I guess that might be a bit too much work for you. And then there’s the environment? Do you have a clue what damage those birth control pills have already done to our drinking water and aquatic animals?
Throughout the encyclical, the pope calls on those with financial and political influence to take responsibility for protecting the environment. “What would induce anyone, at this stage, to hold on to power only to be remembered for their inability to take action when it was urgent and necessary to do so?” Francis asks.
It is a question that also needs to be asked of the church’s hierarchy, whose financial and political power rivals most global institutions: How has the Vatican’s rigid refusal to change its teaching on contraception kept it from taking urgent action to spare both the poor and our beleaguered planet?
The planet is neither poor nor beleaguered. It is quite resilient, in fact! We have pockets here and there – usually in third world countries – where the governments (like the ones you’d love to pass out birth control to the masses) have done a disservice to their natural resources. We have our own natural resource mismanagement that’s wreaking havoc on some of our states – quite ironically in the name of environmentalism. What we do not have, however, is a population problem. You have bought into the lie.
Francis wants the whole human community to be accountable for the state of our environment. But that call must include the Vatican, too. How has the Roman Catholic church’s ban on contraception deepened environmental degradation? How has the church’s paternalistic need for power over the sexualities of its flock exacerbated the conditions of the poor?
And here it comes: “It’s a celibate man problem people. You’re just too stupid to understand it!” Get a grip! Catholics have taken care of the poor longer than you, Jamie. They know what the real problem is and it’s not, as you would have us believe, the poor. You do realize that’s what you are saying, don’t you? “If we didn’t have all these poor people, we wouldn’t have all these poor people. Let’s make all these poor people go away!” And people wonder why racism is on the rise? How about you stop breeding hatred of the poor, honey, and try to fix the real problems of narcissism and corruption?
Pope Francis wouldn’t be breaking radically new ground by changing the church’s teaching on birth control. The foundation for such a change was already put in place 50 years ago by the birth control commission.
Back in 1965, the commission, which was appointed by John XXIII and expanded by Paul VI, voted overwhelmingly to rescind the ban on artificial contraception. But Paul VI refused to accept the commission’s findings, despite the fact that 30 of its 35 lay members, 15 of its 19 theologians, and nine of its 12 bishops voted in favor of changing the teaching. The pope instead sided with those who dissented from the commission’s findings.
According to a report written by those dissenters (known as the “minority report”), “The Church cannot change her answer because this answer is true. … It is true because the Catholic Church, instituted by Christ … could not have so wrongly erred during all those centuries of its history.”
For the sake of the earth and of the poor, it is time for the church to admit that the ban on artificial contraception is doing far more harm than good.
For the life of me, I cannot understand why people have a problem with the National Catholic Fishwrap using Catholic in their name? Oh, maybe because it’s misleading? Likely. Do you understand at all, Jamie, the idea of Papal Infallibility? Since you seem to have a problem with Catholic teaching, let me explain it to you. The Pope cannot change Truth and he cannot bind us to lies. The fact that artificial birth control (artificial should be the big tip off to you) goes against God’s natural law doesn’t change because a certain number of people say it should. The Pope cannot formally “dissent” against Truth. He’s got that little thing called the HOLY SPIRIT keeping him from doing so. You say: “Change the truth for the planet and the poor people.” Did you ever think that maybe we can take care of our environment and not get rid of the poor as you suggest? Heaven forbid that we think God might just provide for His creation! Nope, that couldn’t possibly be the case! God carved us on the palm of His hand but he just can’t provide for those 7, 9, or even 13 billion people? How did we come to think God has such limits to his power?
Western Catholics refused to receive the church’s teaching on contraception decades ago, and increasingly, women and men in developing countries are also rejecting the teaching. In the Philippines, a country known for its deep Catholic faith, 84 percent believe that the government should provide free access to contraceptives.
Uh, this Western Catholic didn’t! Please do not lump us all in with your delusions. Percentages mean little when it comes to Truth. We don’t need to look further than our own American Heart Association to see the “majority” can be wrong. We’ve gone from egg and butter is bad to them being the health fix, and margarine saving us to being the devil incarnate. Some majority somewhere was wrong, so hang the “majority”. Truth is truth. You can feel free to deny it all you want, but don’t you think it a little silly to advocate ignoring it for the sake of popularity? I mean, I think that a lot of teens employ that train of thought.
Women and families want access to contraception because they believe their children’s quality of life is far more important than their number of children. They are exercising their individual consciences and in doing so are lifting themselves out of poverty while also being accountable to the needs of our ecosystem.
You act as if the only people who want birth control are third world countries. This is laughable! The poor are, for the most part, being bribed into using it. Let’s say we never had another child again. Poor people are still going to be poor tomorrow and the powers that be will still be raping the land for wealth with no thought to the environment. There might be fewer people, but the haves and the have nots and the quality of life will not change, because you are only advocating for fewer people, not fewer problems. Again, people are not the root of the problem. As usual, it’s narcissistic corruption which has been aided and abetted by your lame mentality of getting rid of people instead of fixing the actually problem.
Francis is right: A redistribution of food and a radical change in consumerist mentality are essential to feeding the soaring populations of developing countries. But these are long-range goals. Increasing access to family planning education and contraceptives can happen relatively quickly and will have a high impact on those who suffer the worst deprivation in our world.
“Periods of deep crisis,” Francis writes in the encyclical, “require bold decisions.”
If the Vatican truly listens to the cries of the poor and the cries of the earth, it will realize that it is time for the Vatican to make the bold decision of lifting the ban on artificial contraception.
[Jamie L. Manson is NCR books editor. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.]
Well, sis, you won’t hear the cries of the poor if you eliminate them all. Of course, that’s likely next, and Bill and Melinda have certainly done their share of advocating the earliest exit possible without looking too much like Mengele. You would do well to look at countries like China and India where artificial birth control is rampant. How do these countries look to you? The poor are still poor and oppressed as ever!
For the rest of you, I can’t help to think that you might not want to send your kids to Yale Divinity School if you want them to have a proper knowledge of Catholicism and sexual ethics.