The answer is a resounding No. Catholics, like everyone else, are entitled to their private views about how to save the planet. What they cannot do it promote contraception and abortion, or contribute this promotion, or sit quietly on the sidelines of an organisation which promotes them. But like many ecological groups, CEL regards contraception and abortion not just neutrally, but as essential to the project of saving the world. Not only should contraception be forced on any remaining populations where it is not already widespread, but coercion should be used if necessary - even the forced abortion policy of China gets a favourable mention. All this is promoted on the basis of the tired and superficial arguments put forward by the United Nations and others that there are 'too many people', despite the stubborn way in which the supply of food (and everything else) has more than kept up with strong population growth over the last century, and despite the fact that population growth is slowing. According to their projections, on current trends it will peak in 2050. Not exactly out of control, is it?
CEL publish a daily 'Prayer guide', which gives supporters something to pray about every day ('Useful for assemblies, private prayer and workshops: Share it with your church.'), and these are a few of the delightful things they'd like us to chew over.
Wednesday 11 January 2006.
According to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), 380 women a minute become pregnant, of whom 190 do not plan to do so, but lack modern contraceptives. According to John Guillebaud, Emeritus Prefessor of Reproductive Health at University College, London, every minute of the day one woman dies through unsafe induced abortion or childbirth, i.e. 600,000 a year. The UNFPA figures quoted above suggest that half are being killed by pregnancies that they would have avoided – if only they had the contraceptives that we take for granted.
But 'unplanned' pregnancies are not necessarily 'unwanted': these statistics are meaningless. Certainly, women die from abortion, but far more from the 'safe', legal kind, than from illegal abortions.
Thursday 12 January 2006.
For the 4th year in succession the US Administration has withheld funding from UNFPA, the only international agency dedicated to family planning and reproductive healthcare. According to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, experts estimate that the former US contribution to UNFPA, if continued, would each year prevent 2 million unintended pregnancies, nearly 800,000 abortions, 4,700 maternal deaths and 77,000 infant and child deaths.
This is one of the acts of the Bush administration upon which it can congratulate itself: no funding to bribe or bully men into sterilisations in India; no money for forced abortions in China. But CEL clearly thinks this is a bad thing - basing their reasoning on the claims of the most fanatical abortion-pushing group in the world, the IPPF, that, contrary to all the evidence, increased access to contraception reduces the number of abortions.
Wednesday 25 October 2006.
China's notorious “single child” policy has prevented over 400 million births. The average birth rate is now 1.8 children per couple as compared with 6 per couple before the policy was introduced. Nevertheless, according to Zhaio Baige, vice-minister of the National Population & Family Planning Commission, “the basic fact is that we have over 1.3 billion people in China (increasing to 1.5 billion by 2035) accounting for over 22% of the world's population, while we have only 7% of the world's arable land.” As to population policy, she says: “We are introducing a system in the countryside to encourage people to obey the family policy plan, granting economic rewards rather than punishing people who break the rules.” It combines free contraception services for rural women, with sensitive local economic assistance, such as micro-loans for communities in the remote countryside, which can help them stay on their land and make a living from it. But she admits there are difficulties. “How should we promote proper contraception without offending women's rights? That will be a great challenge to our work.” “Ultimately” she says “the solution to China's environmental problem is closely linked to its population situation. We realise that China's population and environmental concerns are the world's concerns, and we are willing to take responsibility and share our experience of solving the problems with the rest of the world.”
-Better technology. But all known renewable energy sources - wind, waves, tides, solar and biological – have their adverse impacts. They also lack the power density of fossil fuels.
- Reduced consumption. But poor people very reasonably aspire to leave poverty – which can only be done by consuming more, so producing more greenhouse gases.
-Fewer humans doing the consuming. The only remaining solution. Voluntary, accessible contraception is NOT a substitute for reduced consumption assisted by technology. It’s just the much-neglected other side of the same coin.
Yet talk about population within the Church and within aid agencies is largely taboo – “the elephant in the room that we don’t want to talk about.” “Compulsion, whether overt or covert, is wrong. Let’s just ensure that every woman who now wants a modern contraceptive method has easy access to it.”
If contraception is the answer, it must be a stupid question: how to save the planet from an imaginary population crisis.
Other clues to their attitude are to be found in their newsletter, Green Christians. It is no surprise that they have attracted to their fold cradle Catholics who dissent from Humanae Vitae: the Winter 200/01 issue contains an article by one such, Michael O'Gara. O'Gara explained that he first dissented from it because of what he took to be the self-contradictory teaching of Paul VI: no to contraception, yes to periodic abstinence for good reasons. (Clearly he's not a great logician.) It was after this that he became involved in 'Christian' ecologists (see here).
The Spring/Summer 2008 issue treated its readers to an article by Professor John Guillebaud, who rejoices in the most revolting claim to fame (see here):
I decided, over 40 years ago and probably uniquely among doctors anywhere in the world, to specialise in contraception including surgery (our clinic in Oxford has done >39,000 vasectomies to date!) on environmental grounds.
The attitude to the human body, to women, and to unborn life, evidenced by CEL's publications is not only grossly immoral, but it is something they are willing and indeed eager to foist on unwilling people, such as Islamic countries in the developing world. It is wrong for Catholics to be invovled in this organisation, and hypocritical for organisations such as 'livesimply', who use Catholics' donations and the Church's network, to give them support.