Statement Denounces Population Control Enthusiasts at Vatican Events (full PDF)
I am a signer. I’m very late in posting this. My affiliation was pulled from my CV and is wrong (I haven’t been at the Medical school for some years). I’ve asked Liz Yore to correct it.
The Catholic Church has a long history of advancing knowledge and obtaining the insights of science in order to better pursue Her religious mission. The Pontifical Academy of Science (PAS) and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) were established by 20th century popes to contribute to this important task. Recent joint work of both academies has focused on issues of environmental protection and human health and development. These topics raise issues beyond strictly scientific matters and enter the realm of policy, ethics, and morality.
In considering environment and human development, the academies appear to draw on a secular culture and mindset that overlooks, and in some cases opposes, the Church’s moral perspective and principles. This tendency comes sharply into view as a persistent focus on reduction of human fertility and population, which emerges frequently as a recommended “solution” to a range of problems. This situation has become a systemic and urgent.
In recent years, several scholars, some PAS members and invited speakers, have publicly endorsed the idea of population reduction through abortion and/or contraception as a means of achieving what they call environmental sustainability. In a 2014 PAS event, PAS member Partha Dasgupta advocated for expanded access to birth control facilities in order to reduce fertility rates in sub-Saharan Africa. Later that year, Prof. Jeffrey Sachs used his platform at a PAS event to encourage leveraging the moral authority of the Catholic Church to support his UN Sustainable Development Goals which are closely tied to ? or actually incorporate — population-reduction programs. Both of these endorsements were published in official PAS documents. The Church does not share these goals, but the Church’s voice in the forum where these ideas are raised has been weak or silent.
Recent activities of PAS and PASS promoting human population and fertility reduction do not appear to take account of current demographic realities of low fertility in most of the world and near stable birth numbers overall. Large parts of the world are now experiencing severe challenges from aging (lack of young) or declining human populations, but the programs to reduce fertility are still promoted in urgent terms. Scholarship needs to be based on accurate perception if it is to be useful.
It is the sincere hope of the signers of this document that the ecclesial authorities responsible for the integrity of the PAS and PASS and the consistent teaching of the Catholic faith will carefully and prayerfully consider the problems we have identified and the recommendations we have made. Because of the gravely serious nature of the problems identified herein, the reality is that leaving these issues unaddressed could be disastrous; human lives, and more importantly, immortal souls, are at great risk.