Pope’s Easter Message

http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2009-04-12-pope-easter_N.htm

The linked article reports on the Pope’s Easter message, delivered to a crowd in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.  It’s the following paragraph of his message that caught my attention:

At a time of world food shortage, of financial turmoil, of old and new forms of poverty, of disturbing climate change, of violence and depravation which force many to leave their homelands in search of a less precarious form of existence, of the ever-present threat of terrorism, of growing fears over the future, it is urgent to rediscover grounds for hope.

It just baffles me that a Pope and a Church that acknowledges this rising tide of problems that are so obviously linked to overpopulation remain steadfast in their opposition to contraception and their refusal to acknowledge that a state of overpopulation exists or is even possible.  It’s especially baffling when you consider that the Catholic Church is really rather progressive on other issues that some sects of Christianity oppose, like theories about the origin of the universe (like the Big Bang Theory) and evolution. 

Equally puzzling is the tortured logic they employ in their opposition to contraception.  It’s OK to prevent conception through use of the “rhythm” method, but it’s not OK to prevent conception through artificial means like pills, condoms or medical procedures.  It seems that the former method still allows for “God’s Will,” since there’s a chance that the rhythm method may not work.  There’s also a chance, admittedly less, that the artificial means may fail as well.  How does one thwart God’s will while the other doesn’t?  And does God really care exactly how it was done if His will was that a baby be conceived?  If that conception was prevented, will He really give us a pass if it was done through the rhythm method, just because the Pope decreed that that was OK?  If that’s His criteria, then it wouldn’t matter if the Pope conceded that the artificial means are equally acceptable. 

I give the Church credit for progress it’s made in acknowledging some of the problems that we now confront, like global warming.  Its recent claim that it’s a sin to harm the environment is one example.  But it has the power to do so much more by taking one tiny step.  By condoning contraception, it would remove a big barrier to leaders of Christian countries officially acknowledging overpopulation, allowing them to begin introducing population management policies.  And the Church needn’t fear that an acceptance of contraception starts them down a slippery slope toward condoning abortion, no more than fearing that the right to bear arms is a step toward condoning murder. 

I don’t believe that God would bless mankind with the high reproductive capacity needed to sustain us through our early history when our life expectancy was short, and with the intellect to conquer disease and improve and extend our lives, without also expecting us to employ that same intellect in managing the resulting excess reproductive capacity.  It’s not logical.  He doesn’t expect us to simply breed ourselves to ruin like a plague of locusts. 

Come on, Pope Benedict.  If you’re really concerned about the crises facing humanity, it’s time to do the right thing and become a real force in addressing them.  We can’t simply “rediscover” grounds of hope.  You need to proactively lay the foundation for that hope.

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4 Responses to Pope’s Easter Message

  1. Mike says:

    Yes I agree, the biggest problem is overpopulation. When Paul Ehrlich’s famous book of the 60’s, “The Population Bomb”, was gathering momentum, the government, church and business all sent a pack of media Rottweilers after Ehlich’s followers for some serious deprogramming and mind control. They are still nipping at the heels of anyone that attempts to connect our global environmental problems to population. Their manifesto was simply to convince everyone that dwindling energy, food and water supplies was due to greedy consumption rather than procreation. Besides a stable population would ruin our economy.

    Yes, if we could just get everyone to eat rice and beans, wear long-johns for those long cold winters and walk to work we could all live a sustainable life. Ehrlick wisely defined “population as the animals that occupy the turf, behaving as they naturally behave, not by a hypothetical group that might be substituted for them”. Every wants the good life if they have the means. Never met a dog that would turn down a steak for some dry dog food.

    So we introduced American technology to the rest of the world thinking we would make big bucks while solving our global guilt. But ooops, the rest of the world, read the ads, produced our TV’s, DVD’s, SUV’s and Ipods, made a lot of money and huge populations also want what we have, to hell with rice and beans.

    Fifty years later, the dominoes are starting to fall. Our economy is ruined by greed not by a shrinking population and guess what? Water, food, and energy shortages are popping up everywhere in spite of the green revolution. So I still see our overpopulation as a major factor in world affairs.

    Mike.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      Thanks for stopping by and offering that perspective, Mike. Ehrlich takes a lot of heat for making predictions that haven’t yet panned out (a bit like Malthus), but the problem is not his conclusions but rather the timing. It astounds me how short-sighted many people are.

  2. Clyde Bollinger says:

    As a Methodist, I wonder, is such a drastic change in the realm of the Pope’s authority?
    As needed as it is, I suspect what you are suggesting is a fundemental change in doctrine that cuts to the heart of Catholicism. No doubt such a change would be received with enthusiasm in large portions of the world, but some would consider it blasphemy.

    • Pete Murphy says:

      Clyde, I think it’s totally within the Pope’s authority to make this change. In fact, at the time of Vatican II, decades ago, a panel of bishops who studied the issue actually recommended to the Pope that the Church end its opposition to contraception. But the Pope rejected their recommendation, fearing that it would constitute an admission that the Protestants were right on the issue all along.

      I don’t see it at all as anything fundamental to Catholicism. The only thing fundamental is the teaching of Christ, and He obviously had nothing to say on the issue.

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