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Population Growth (Page 2) “I am sure that deep down in your heart, you know that the unborn child is a human being loved by God, like you and me.” + Blessed Mother Teresa

Education and the Elimination of Poverty

The International Conference on Population and Development marked an important moment in the world's understanding of the interrelationship between population and development. For the first time the linkage between population and development was the focus of consideration. All forms of coercion in the implementation of population policies were rejected. The family was recognized as the fundamental unit of society based on marriage and entitled to comprehensive support and protection. Strong impetus was given to the improvement of the status of women throughout the world, particularly with regard to their health, and their full and equal participation in development... The Holy See continues to insist that human beings are at the center of concerns for development. The dignity of the human person must be respected in all its aspects. As the Cairo Document states, this is to be done with full respect for the various religious and ethical values and cultural background of each woman and man... The Holy See calls for a priority treatment of issues regarding development and insists on two important components: education and the reduction of poverty. However, the disproportion between the funds allocated for reproductive health and those allocated for the elimination of widespread endemic diseases or for education is noted. The Holy See underlines that true development can never be reduced to a merely physical dimension. Sexual and reproductive health must be integrated within an overall concern for the education and well-being of the total person. The ability of a woman to make decisions is not dependent on the reduction of her fertility but on the level of her education... The Holy See continues to deplore recourse to sterilization by the exertion of various types of pressure on patients or by seeking to disguise this type of intervention often undertaken due to quotas with regard to fertility. This is raw coercion and the denial of an individual's true rights. In such cases, the commitment to eliminate poverty could be confused with that of eliminating the poor... The aging of the world's population merits immediate attention, particularly in light of recent revisions of the demographic estimates released by the UN Population Division. The change in the proportions between those who are economically active and those who are dependent has created strains on pension and health-care services. This trend will likely continue. Governments should provide more resources to address this issue. + Address of the Holy See Delegation at the Hague International Forum on Population and Development (February 11, 1999)

Education and Well-Being of the Total Person

The Holy See has continued to insist that the dignity of the person and basic human rights, especially the right to life, are promoted and protected, recognizing that human beings are at the center of concerns for development. It has also held strongly to the call for the full respect for various religious and ethical values and cultural backgrounds of each woman and man... There is need for a closer look at issues involving development, especially regarding the reduction of poverty and the provision of basic social services including education, clean water and sanitation, and the elimination of widespread endemic diseases... The Holy See repeats its recognition that true development can never be reduced to a merely physical dimension and that an overall concern for education and well-being of the total person must be recognized. In some ways a disproportionate amount of attention has been given to a very limited understanding of reproductive health... In light of recent demographic projections released by the United Nations Population Division, the aging of the world's population calls for immediate attention and action. Changes in the proportions between those who are economically active and those who are retired or dependent will continue to create more strains on pension and social security systems and health care services. Governments must foster the intrinsic value of persons of all ages and insure economic and social policies that support older persons without burdening the young and the working sector of the population. The Holy See understands that the phenomenon of migration is a concern of all states. It is closely related to issues of development and population and the international community must extend assistance and protection to all migrants and their families... The Holy See rejects any recognition of a right to abortion through policies aimed at creating new categories of personal rights or including health services that promote “safe abortion”. Abortion is never safe for the unborn child and often involves physical and or psychological dangers for the mother... The Holy See points out the fact that all rights will fade if the moral dimension of human rights and the obligations and responsibilities of states, as well as each individual, to protect every human being are not more clearly realized. In this regard, the importance of informed consent must be strongly emphasized to protect human rights and to ensure trust. Furthermore, no nation should be forced to change or violate its own laws that prohibit or regulate abortion practices, nor should any woman be forced to undergo abortion... + Address of the Holy See Delegation at the 32nd Session of the UN Commission on Population and Development, March 27, 1999  

Deep Down in Your Heart, You Know

Each one of us is here today because we have been loved by God who created us and our parents who accepted and cared enough to give us life. Life is the most beautiful gift of God. That is why it is so painful to see what is happening today in so many places around the world: life is being deliberately destroyed by war, by violence, by abortion. And we have been created by God for greater things - to love and be loved.    I have said often, and I am sure of it, that the greatest destroyer of peace in the world today is abortion. If a mother can kill her own child, what is there to stop you and me from killing each other? The only one who has the right to take life is the One who has created it. Nobody else has that right: not the mother, not the father, not the doctor, no agency, no conference, no government. I am sure that deep down in your heart, you know that the unborn child is a human being loved by God, like you and me. How can anyone knowing that, deliberately destroy that life? It frightens me to think of all the people who kill their conscience so that they can perform an abortion. When we die, we will come face to face with God, the Author of life. Who will give an account to God for the millions and millions of babies who were not allowed to have the chance to live, to experience loving and being loved?  God has created a world big enough for all the lives He wishes to be born. It is only our hearts that are not big enough to want them and accept them. If all the money that is being spent on finding ways to kill people was used instead to feed them and house them and educate them - how beautiful that would be. We are too often afraid of the sacrifices we might have to make. But where there is love, there is always sacrifice. And when we love until it hurts, there is joy and peace. + Statement by Blessed Mother Teresa Sent to the Cairo International Conference on Population and Development, September 9, 1994

Development of the Family

With demographic growth, which is particularly pronounced in the young nations, the number of those failing to find work and driven to misery or parasitism will grow in the coming years unless the conscience of man rouses itself and gives rise to a general movement of solidarity through an effective policy of investment and of organization of production and trade, as well as of education.   We know the attention given to these problems within international organizations, and it is our lively wish that their members will not delay bringing their actions into line with their declarations. It is disquieting in this regard to note a kind of fatalism which is gaining a hold even on people in positions of responsibility. This feeling sometimes leads to Malthusian solutions inculcated by active propaganda for contraception and abortion. In this critical situation, it must on the contrary be affirmed that the family, without which no society can stand, has a right to the assistance which will assure it of the conditions for a healthy development. + Octogesima Adveniens, Apostolic Letter of Pope Paul VI, May 14, 1971 To Blame Population Growth is One Way of Refusing to Face the Issues 49. ...we have to realize that a true ecological approach always becomes a social approach; it must integrate questions of justice in debates on the environment, so as to hear both the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor. 50. Instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of “reproductive health”. Yet “while it is true that an unequal distribution of the population and of available resources creates obstacles to development and a sustainable use of the environment, it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development”. To blame population growth instead of extreme and selective consumerism on the part of some, is one way of refusing to face the issues. It is an attempt to legitimize the present model of distribution, where a minority believes that it has the right to consume in a way which can never be universalized, since the planet could not even contain the waste products of such consumption. Besides, we know that approximately a third of all food produced is discarded, and “whenever food is thrown out it is as if it were stolen from the table of the poor”. Still, attention needs to be paid to imbalances in population density, on both national and global levels, since a rise in consumption would lead to complex regional situations, as a result of the interplay between problems linked to environmental pollution, transport, waste treatment, loss of resources and quality of life. + Pope Francis, Laudato Si, 2015 For further reading: Ethical and Pastoral Dimensions of Population Trends, Lib. Editrice Vaticana, 1994
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