How the United States Plans to Impose the Two-Child Family on the World and How the Church Plans to Respond

Anthony Zimmerman
July/August, 1992
Reproduced with Permission

On Nov. 22, 1991, roughly seven months before the June 1992 Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro, the Holy Father indicated once more his disapproval of birth control programs that disregard moral laws and human dignity. To no one's surprise, the media hype surrounding the summit focused on population as the chief cause of environmental problems in the world. CNN ran a series called the "People Bomb," during which they sat reverently at the feet of people like Paul Ehrlich and asked what could be done. CBS' Sixty Minutes reran a piece on Mexico City, which laid the guilt for population growth and therefore (at least in their eyes) pollution squarely at the feet of the Catholic Church. No one asked Mike Wallace how condoms are going to clean up polluted rivers in Mexico, nor did the reporter from CNN ask Ehrlich about all the predictions in his 1968 book, The Population Bomb, which failed to come true. But the orthodoxy among the media still remains untroubled by fact. People are the problem, and the main source of ideas for the wrong kinds of these people is the Catholic Church.

This frontal assault may cause some to ponder whether the Church is planning to back down on any of her positions. If the Pope's November address is any indication, the answer is no. His address to participants of the Study Week on Population Problems, sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, indicates once more that the Church does not at all approve the massive public and private programs for contraception.

The Study Week appears to be part of the preparation for an expected major Vatican document concerning human life, with a chapter on population problems. It is also likely that the Vatican is gearing up for active participation In the upcoming World Population Congress, which will be held at a still undetermined location in 1994. The stage is set, then, for the Church to sharpen her focus on population policies, and to strengthen her leadership in this area of social teaching and action. Five burning topics come to mind immediately:

The "population targets" glibly championed by many participants at the Mexico City 1984 World Population Conference did not meet the approval of the Vatican Delegation. Bishop Jan Schotte (now Archbishop), head of the Vatican delegation, pointed out that quantitative population growth targets invite coercive measures to meet the targets; that such targets might be used asa condition for economic assistance.

He told the Conference that socio-economic assistance should not be based on a "demonstrated decline in birth rates." He added that it was "simplistic and unreal to identify population policy with population control: at the heart of population policies is the good health and well-being of the human person who must always be looked upon as an active participant in the life, as a precious good to be cherished, and not as a mere object of government policies" (Mexico City, Aug. 9, 1984). In other words, when the Vatican speaks of population policies, it doesn't necessarily think of a numbers game.

The Philippine Episcopal Commission on Family Life circulated a scorching criticism of imposed population targets to participants of that 1984 World Conference. "Experience in the Philippines has taught us a severe lesson," wrote Sr. Blesila. C. Fabricante, ECFL Executive Secretary, blaming the World Bank with these words:

Since the late 1960s, the Philippine government has implemented a population program which has directly or indirectly affected family life in our country and this program seems to be the same with others existing in developing countries funded by the World Bank. Abortion is part of this program structure. We cannot fight abortion alone without confronting the whole structure of which abortion is only a part.

In other words, the World Bank pushes the Trojan Horse of contraception into unsuspecting developing countries: once admitted, a legion of abortion devils clatters out of its belly to overwhelm the nation.

In the document itself Bishop Jesus Y. Varela, Chairman of the ECFL, told how population targets like the AIDS virus, destroy moral defenses and freedom:

The movement of the program has been towards the radical: from four children per family as its goal, to three children, then two. and now, to one child by the year 2000 (the third 5year plan, 1981-1985). It has also moved from a "contraception-only" policy, to sterilization for its main thrust. The IUDs, admittedly abortifacients, continue to be offered.

Manipulation has been indispensable to the program. When targeted results of human behaviour are desired, freedom of decision becomes an obstacle. Thus, material incentives, social sanctions (maternity leave without pay, limited tax exemption etc)... arc applied.

Lessons learned during his country's 15-year population program, the bishop said, include

These observations confirm the CBCP decision not to be involved in any way (personnel, organization, funds) with the population control program of the government, nor to enter into any form of association that lends a semblance of tacit approval of the program.

The logic of targets, as Bishop Varela states, leads to manipulation, because human freedom is an obstacle to the targets imposed. Funded population targets invite bribery and deceit, also violence and coercion: when hired hands fill their quota of sterilizations or IUDs inserted, or measured out Pills and condoms, they qualify for pay; if they do not meet targets they may lose their pay or their job. Human rights and humanitarian considerations are out of the field of vision when eyes focus on targets.

I spoke with a young man (in India) who barely escaped a sterilization team; when he caught sight of the team turning into his street, he was almost frozen on the spot, but with newly found energy dashed in and out of doors until they lost him. His quick action saved him from a forced vasectomy, and so deprived the team of one more statistic to claim a fee. Others accepted fees to be vasectomized, not once but as many times as willing hands repeated the operation to collect and to pay new fees. Pills, are dispensed without medical consultation; not all acceptors use them. One researcher found pills cached under the sills of the roofs in the houses of the village.

No wonder birth rates did not decline. Targets must be met, so program implementers become cogs in the wheel of a human bureaucracy run amuck. In China local districts were held hostage to the success of meeting the target quotas. Unapproved pregnancies were torn out of the protesting mothers; other mothers escaped alone at night, to melt into a population of strangers, without means and legal rights, there to eventually bear their child.

Those promoting population "targets" are impatient with natural family planning, an unsupervised situation in which parents voluntarily abstain out of love for their spouses and children, Hence, programmers concentrate on contraceptives, sterilization and abortion as the mainstream methods of achieving targeted deceleration of demographic growth. Funds for natural family planning are a minuscule token of the total budget, and they are characteristically granted only on condition that the NFP team declare themselves to be a part of one integrated team of family planning; one part, therefore, of the contraception, sterilization and abortion juggernaut.

As Pope John Paul II wrote in Familiaris Consortio, No. 30, the Church condemns the activities of governments which push sinful methods of birth control to achieve lowered birth targets, as a grave offence against human dignity and justice all those activities of governments or other public authorities which attempt to limit in any way the freedom of couples in deciding about children. Consequently any violence applied by such authorities in favour of contraception, or still worse, of sterilization and procured abortion, must be altogether condemned and forcefully rejected. Likewise to be denounced as gravely unjust are cases where, in international relations, economic help given for the advancement of peoples is made conditional on programmes of contraception, sterilization and procured abortion.

Yet the U.N. literature distributed at the 1984 Mexico Conference specifically and insistently recommends targets. One of the papers circulated there, Appendix C, "Nature and Scope of the Recommendations" reads in part Recommendation 34- "Governments are urged to set their own quantitative targets with respect to fertility levels." A background release, POP/283, dated Aug. 1, 1984, states that: "governments would be urged to set their own quantitative fertility targets." The Philippine experience indicates "targets" and respect for the right of couples do not coexist. Countries must choose one or the other: targets or respect for the rights of couples.

This clamor for targets must have a reason; and the reason is not hard to find. United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) and various agencies which promote contraception are funded to no small extent by the U.S. government such as through its Agency for International Development (U.S. AID). "No one who follows the Congressional hearings on foreign aid, can fail to be startled by the depth of the official U.S. commitment to population control abroad," said Jacqueline Kasun noting the billions of dollars the United States has provided (The War against Population, Ignatius Press, 1988, p. 79). Since 1965 the United States has contributed more to population programs of countries outside of the United States than all other countries combined and has pressured these, as well as international agencies, to back the programs (Kasun, Ibid). "Early in the 1970s," Kasun continues,

The United States' foreign aid bureaucracy spelled out its plan to bring world population growth to a halt. In a classified document prepared 1974 and not declassified until 1980, the AID planners voiced their intent to bring about a "two-child family on the average" throughout the world by the year 2000 (U.S. Government Document, NSSM 200, p. 14).... In its Section 102 on "Development Assistance Policy", the 1978 act said that U.S. aid would be "concentrated" in countries that demonstrate their "commitment and progress" by their "control of population growth," along with other indications of serious intent (Kasun, pp. 79-82).

When private citizens use bribery or blackmail, we put them in jail. When U.S. AID people do it on a grand scale, we call it a policy. It is time to call a halt to the charade. All population funding of U.S. AID ought to be stopped, because administrators use the funds to bribe and blackmail poor nations.

A recent issue of Population Reports, a publication which Is funded by U.S. AID, asks for more - you guessed it - funding for contraception: "By the year 2000," pontificates the Report(November 1991), "as many as 600 million couples in the developing world may be using family planning-about 250 million more than in 1990. Family planning for these users could cost as much as $11 billion per year." It asks that governments and donor organizations to provide accordingly. And past head of the World Bank, Robert McNamara, tells anyone who will listen that the Bank sees population growth as the prime evil to be stopped, and calculated that the "international donor community could increase its funding from $800 million per year to approximately $3.5 billion by the year 2000" (Development Forum,published by the Development of Public Information, November 1991-February 1992, p. 19). Most certainly the Church, "expert in humanity," will continue to oppose this massive onslaught against the moral welfare of humanity engineered by massively funded organizations like U.S. AID, UNFPA, the World Bank and other public agencies.

The bizarre media monopolized anti-life propaganda has occupied center stage during several decades, and even some priests think we ought to climb on the bandwagon. For example, Father Mark O'Keefe, O.S.B., now claims that the Church opposes large families because of a general world overpopulation problem:

It is appropriate for the couple to consider the common good of society and the problem of overpopulation in making decisions about family size.... The Church supports educational programs which inform couples about the need for population control and appropriate means of birth regulation, and which seek to overcome the cultural biases which contribute to large family sizes ("The Church and Population Issues," in The Priest,August 1991, p. 41).

As evidence, he quotes a passage from the 1967 Encyclical of Pope Paul VI titled Populorurn Progressio (PP), No. 37. He bends to his own purpose the meaning of the passage, which is a re-statement of Gaudium et Spes (GS),No. 87, and ought to be understood in harmony with GSNo. 87. Here is the passage of PP No. 37:

It is true that too frequently an accelerated demographic increase adds its own difficulties to the problems of development: the size of the population increases more rapidly than available resources, and things are found to have apparently reached an impasse. From that moment the temptation is great to check the demographic increase by means of radical measures. It is certain that public authorities can intervene within the limit of their competence, by favoring the appropriate information and adopting suitable measures, provided these be in conformity with the moral law and that they respect the rightful freedom of married couples. Where the inalienable right to marriage and procreation is lacking, human dignity has ceased to exist. Finally, it is for the parents to decide with full knowledge of the matter, on the number of their children, taking into account their responsibilities toward God, themselves, the children they have already brought into the world, and the community to which they belong.

The above passage is in the same document as GS No. 50, which approves orderly large families. Father O'Keefe's conclusions are out of bounds, when placed in this larger context of papal teachings. But many certainly agree with him. A supposed duty to control population has become almost axiomatic for a large part of the clergy and laity. It offers a facile excuse for family planning. A"duty" to control births is quickly translated into a logic of using the "more efficient" methodology of contraception, back-up abortion, and sterilization. This mentality has now become pandemic in the United States and elsewhere. Among the world's 850 to 880 million married couples in the reproductive years, 340 million are said to be using one form or another of contraception/ sterilization (see Studies in Family Planning, Nov/Dec 1988, p. 341).

After having consulted with the 1980 Synod of Bishops "On the Family," Pope John Paul II wrote that the ultimate reason for refusing new life is the absence in people's hearts of God, whose love alone is stronger than all the world's fears and can conquer them" (Familaris Consortio, No. 30). The Church views an anti-life mentality as a departure from God's positive love, as a refusal to welcome the splendid gift of God's goodness. She raises an eyebrow at the credulity of so many who become victims "of a certain panic deriving from the studies of ecologists and futurologists on population growth, which sometimes exaggerate the danger of demographic increase to the quality of life" (FC, No. 30).

If the Church were to praise well-ordered large families on the one hand, but would on the other hand oblige responsible parents to curb births to overcome national or world overpopulation, she would be sounding an uncertain trumpet (cf. I Cor 14:8). But as we can see, the present pope adheres without apologies or hesitation to the approval of well-ordered large families as taught by Vatican II in No. 50 of Gaudium. et Spes.Some commentators see a contradiction between GS No. 50, which praises those with large families, and GS No. 87, which mentions the widespread opinion that population expansion should be kept in check. According to GS No. 50,

Whenever Christian spouses in a spirit of sacrifice and trust in divine providence (cf. I Cor. 7:5) carry out their duties of procreation with generous human and Christian responsibility, they glorify the Creator and perfect themselves in Christ. Among the married couples who thus fulfill their God-given mission, special mention should be made of those who after prudent reflection and common decision courageously undertake the proper upbringing of a large number of children (Here a footnote refers to the Address of Pius XII to Large Families, Jan. 20, 1958).

According to GS No. 87, on the other hand,

International cooperation is vitally necessary in the case of those peoples who very often in the midst of many difficulties are faced with the special problems arising out of rapid increases in population.... The government has, assuredly, in the matter of the population of its country, is own rights and duties, within the limits of its proper competence, for instance as regards social and family legislation, the migration of country-dwellers to the city, and information concerning the state and needs of the nation.

Invariably, the Pope continues to approve large and well-ordered families as examples of true Christian virtue. For example, the Pope asked Americans to be generous parents: "Decisions about the number of children and the sacrifices to be made for them must not be taken only with a view of adding to comfort and preserving a peaceful existence. Reflecting upon this matter before God, with the graces drawn from the sacrament, and guided by the teaching of the Church, parents will remind themselves that it is certainly less serious to deny their children certain comforts or material advantages than to deprive them of the presence of brothers and sisters, who could help them to grow in humanity and to realize the beauty of life at all its ages and in all its variety" (Homily on the Capital Mall, Washington, Oct. 7, 1979). Note how the Pope pointed to the "teaching of the Church" to confirm his advice that parents should be generous in providing their children with brothers and sisters. He did not proclaim a change in the teaching of the Church which blesses large families, but approved them, now as before. GS No. 50 places no moral restrictions on parents against rearing a large family, provided they do this properly with common decision and courage and after due reflection.

According to the official spokesman of the Church, then, to raise a large family in an orderly manner today is far from being irresponsible, Father O'Keefe's conclusions to the contrary notwithstanding. Large is beautiful today, as yesterday, as it will be tomorrow. Seminaries used to be overwhelmingly populated by members of large families, those families "most blessed by God and specially loved and prized by the Church as its most precious treasures" (Pope Plus X11, "The Large Family" Jan. 20, 1959). Added the Pope in that same address, which is cited in a Footnote to GS No. 50:

Wherever you find large families in great numbers, they point to: the physical and moral health of a Christian people; a living faith in God and trust in His Providence; the fruitful and joyful holiness of Catholic marriage.... So let the weak and selfish take their example from you; let the nation continue to be loving and grateful toward you for all the sacrifices you have taken upon yourselves to raise and educate the citizens (Address to Large Families, Jan. 20, 1959).

The Church, said John Paul 11, quoting Paul VI, "upholds the principle of responsible parenthood and considers it her chief duty to draw urgent attention to the morality of the methods employed" (Address of Nov. 22, 1991). It may occur to some that the Pope concedes here that governments may legitimately seek to curb population growth if they promote legitimate methods-natural family planning-for this purpose. Is it true?

GS No. 87 does indeed mention natural family planning after having acknowledged "special problems arising out of rapid increases in population." Does that imply that well-ordered large families are out of bounds morally, when governments forbid large families, as in China, or campaign against them as many governments do today? That is a point which needs further clarification. But later in his November 1991 address the pope says: "Population growth has to be faced not only by the exercise of a responsible parenthood which respects the divine law, but also by economic means which have a profound effect on social institutions."

The Pope, in the context, focuses not on curbing births but on correcting deficiencies in social institutions. It would be erroneous, I believe, to conclude that the Pope approves the implementation of government policies to curb population growth, provided only that this be achieved by means of natural family planning. If that were the case, the Church would explicitly approve well ordered large families in GS 50, and implicitly disapprove them in GS 87, which is absurd. Couples will probably not practice periodic abstinence for a long time if they do not believe that this is good for the family itself. If governments ask them to do it for solving overpopulation, they will probably want to install a new government rather than go along with a program they do not really believe in.

The Church believes that couples should use morally licit means to limit the size of their families, but are demographics one of the issues they should take into account in making this decision? In other words, is "overpopulation" a real problem? Let us go through a series of indicators briefly to test whether birth control is needed and beneficial for the world.

Key statistics indicate that world increase in food production has outstripped world population increase by a comfortable margin during recent years,1975-1988 (Japan Statistical Yearbook 1991, citing UN Statistical Yearbooks). Similarlyannual world gross production rates outstripped population growth comfortably during the years 1970-1984 (UN Statistical Yearbook, "Summary".)

The paper of Professor Simon Kuznets of Harvard University, indicating that rapid population growth is characteristically a twin brother of rapid economic development, stirred the participants of the Asian Population Conference in New Delhi, Dec. 10-20, 1962. "The fact is that historically the high rates of per capita product growth characterizing modern economic development initially appeared not because population growth declined, but in conjunction with unprecedentedly high rates of population growth," he wrote. "Both the high per capita product and high population growth rates-were manifestations of the same underlying process: the application of new scientific methods and knowledge generally to problems of economic and social organization."

At the conference session, the discussion leader drew the conclusion from this paper that one must question the assumption that a high rate of population growth is a major deterrent to economic growth and development.

A healthy, educated, well-nourished, disciplined, eager young laborer in an industrialized society can produce 20 times more than an illiterate, disease-ridden, malnourished adult who works with rake and hoe. As health, order, skills, organization and enterprise develop, labor becomes ever more productive and living levels rise. In the United States, for example, in 1989 only 1,226,000 farm laborers were engaged in agriculture, of which 955,000 were men and 270,000 were women (U.S. Statistical Abstract 1991, p. 644). They produced food and fiber for 250 millions in the USA, plus millions abroad. One good USA farmer therefore produces food and fiber for more than 200 people.

This is an oversimplification, but it indicates how easy it has become to feed people in an industrialized society, whereas in a rural subsistence economy, perhaps 85 percent of the workers are engaged in food and fiber production. In Japan, likewise, laborers have migrated steadily from the primary industries to the secondary and tertiary, and finally into the entertainment and arts sectors. In 1948, 49% worked in primary industries; in 1990 this was reduced to 7.2%, freeing 42% for work in the secondary and tertiary industries (Japan Statistical Yearbook,1991, p. 786).

Nathan Keyfitz; observes that "contemporary academic economists, unlike those of the 19th century, find that although population growth and density can have bad effects on development, these will only be severe with wrong economic policies. Technical advance and substitution in free markets avoid major difficulties, for example, shortage of materials" (Abstract of his article, "Population and development within the ecosphere: one view of the literature" in Population Index, Spring, 1991, pp. 5-22). He also observes "that the report of the Special Session of the United Nations on Revitalizing Economic growth in the Developing Countries contains 38 paragraphs, of which only two mention population at all, and neither suggests that rapid growth could be a problem" (Population and Development Review, June 1990, p. 5).

Dozens of studies, starting with that of Simon Kuznets, have found no association between the rate of population growth and the growth of income per capita. From this Julian Simon argues that "these studies are consistent with the existence of a positive long-run effect of population growth upon economic development" (Population and Development Review, June 1989). After the initial investments are made, more people have a positive effect on economic growth.

Julian Simon and Herman Kahn circulated a paper edited by themselves at the 1984 Mexico Conference, with chapters by 21 experts. This paper not only categorically denies the economic value of population policies as such; it goes on to brand recommendations of the United Nations' 1980 Global 2000 Report as unfounded and unacceptable, ignorant and arrogant" (p. 48). Their view is that the government should not take steps to make the public more "aware" of issues concerning resources, environment, and population.

"We consider that the public has been badly served by having been scared by a very large volume of unfounded and/or exaggerated warnings about these matters," they wrote. "Many of these injudicious warnings that have been unsupported scientifically have derived from government agencies.

"The results have been disastrous from the viewpoint of the allocation of social resources" (p. 46). These eminent scholars then radically re-write the Global 2000 Report as follows:

Our conclusions are reassuring, though not grounds for complacency. Global problems due to physical conditions (as distinguished from those caused by institutional and political conditions) are always possible, but are likely to be less pressing in the future than in the past. Environmental, resource, and population stresses are diminishing, and with the passage of time will have less influence than now upon the quality of human life on our planet. These stresses have in the past always caused many people to suffer from lack of food, shelter, health, and jobs, but the trend is toward less rather than more of such suffering. Especially important and noteworthy is the dramatic trend toward longer and healthier life throughout all the world. Because of increased knowledge, the earth's "carrying capacity" has been increasing throughout the decades and centuries and millennia to such an extent that the term "carrying capacity" has by now no useful meaning. These trends strongly suggest a progressive improvement and enrichment of the earth's natural resource base, and of mankind's lot on earth (p. 50).

There are environmental issues too, and all nations must work together in this area. By no means are the problems insoluble. A good example of just such an environmental issue that has received a lot of press lately is the so-called greenhouse effect. Carbon dioxide forms only about 0.0034 percent of the atmosphere by volume. The recent increase in combustion of carbon fossil fuels and other carbon is said to be increasing this percentage. Carbon dioxide traps long-wave infrared radiation (heat) radiating back from the surface of the earth into space, causing a resultant warming of the atmosphere. Various control measures proposed at the 1992 Earth Summit will attempt to deal with the problem. Yet, how do we know whether increased carbon dioxide content of the atmosphere with a resultant warming trend would exert a net negative impact on living conditions? Higher concentrations of carbon dioxide in the air and water nurture a more luxuriant growth of terrestrial and aquatic plant life. A warming trend intensifies this effect. But more plant growth would consume more of the carbon dioxide again and so tend to automatically maintain a balance, or to moderate the increase.

At the same time, it would release additional oxygen to nurture animal life. During the Miocene age-an era from about 25 million years ago to five million years ago-the earth was warmer than now, and a band of tropical rain forests circled the globe, covering with greenery some of the present stretches of desert. Will tropical rain forests once more cover some of the earth's deserts due to a warming trend? If so, ought ecologists call for more combustion of carbon fuels instead of less? "Certainly the most curious aspect of the warming debate has been an incomprehensible downplaying, even outright neglect, of an indisputably beneficial effect that the higher concentrations of atmosphere carbon dioxide and higher tropospheric temperatures will have on the productivity of plants" (Vaclav Smil in Population and Development Review, March 1990, P. 11).

The Global Summit was surrounded by people calling in absolute terms for results which may or may not be beneficial. Dr. Ha1fdan Mahler, Secretary General of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, calls for an intensification of birth control promotion during the 1990s, lest "the global population may not stabilize between 8-10 billion people, but between 14-16 billion people -- or three times more than we have at present" (Interview with Japanese OICFP News, February 1991).

We ask: What is better, 8 to 10 billion people, or 14 to 16 billion? If the Lord made the earth suitable for 16 billion and more, then why be so doggedly insistent that fewer humans find happiness on earth, and then, hopefully, in heaven? Raw pessimism, and disappointment with life, appears to be fueling the war against people. There is no real reason to conclude that 16 billion people -- and double that, and double that again -- -cannot have a better material level of living on this earth if they manage their affairs reasonably well and succeed in establishing and maintaining peace. We do not know what the future of the world has in store; but we do know that it is not God's plan that we promote the breaking of His laws concerning the transmission of human life.

If ever in the future the world's families would recognize convincingly that, for their own welfare, they must cooperate in birth quotas to prevent absolute overpopulation - for example, to prevent mass starvation, to mitigate a disastrous greenhouse effect, or to allow living and breathing space for all humans; and if no other way to maintain comfortable living conditions could be devised except birth quotas - then, at that time, the Church may invoke the law of human solidarity which is described in GS No. 69 as follows:

God destined the earth and all it contains for all men and all peoples so that all created things would be shared fairly by all mankind under the guidance of justice tempered by charity.... Therefore every man has the right to possess a sufficient amount of the earth's goods for himself and his family. This has been the opinion of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, who taught that men are bound to come to the aid of the poor and to do so not merely out of their superfluous goods.

The principle of human solidarity here described implies that if one or the other nation were now "absolutely overpopulated" (which is not true at present), then the rest of the human family would be obliged to yield more living space to the people of that nation. Families within the nation would not, by definition of solidarity, be obliged to curb births to solve the national problem. Of course, parents would be obliged to limit births to the number they could support properly.

If absolute world overpopulation would ever occur, therefore, the Church ought then, in accordance with the principle of human solidarity, urge families to observe equitable birth quotas by means of natural family planning, or later marriage; and she might urge the option of consecrated chastity to such as have the gift. The time for that is not now, nor in the foreseeable future. Nor need it ever occur, if the mainstream of our race observe the 10 Commandments tolerably well. The Church herself is an immense influence in the world, which gives us confidence that she will see us through all population problems of the future, if we follow her sensible leadership tolerably well, and if she continues to exercise and extend her service to mankind.

Successful adaptation of the world's population to the world's available resources depends upon man's conformity to the moral law, a law which he finds inscribed in nature. The abandonment of the moral law as fostered by more than one ideology has contributed to the creation of the various crises which the media love to associate with "overpopulation." In any catalogue of Catholic solutions, the return to the order of nature and the moral order is always the key.

The abandonment of breast-feeding has contributed greatly to shorter spacing between births. Yet breast-feeding is wholesome for child and mother, and ought to be restored in full. A significant side effect would be an average of longer intervals between births. A restoration of breast-feeding is a significant part of the "Catholic" solution.

Pope John Paul 11, in Familiaris Consortio No. 23, urges that every effort be made to make knowledge about the "rhythms of fertility" accessible to all married people and to the young preparing for marriage. The spacing of births in accordance with the health needs of the mother and of the children already born call be done by means of natural family planning. Through her health care institutes and personnel, through her schools, also parishes, the Church can gradually implement this ministry.

Schools, both private and public, provide another venue for fertility and chastity education. No great additional costs, organizations, equipment and travel are needed when this is done in schools. When these children marry, there will be no great need to arrange for new classes in natural family planning teaching. Within such classes, students could also learn the reasons for and benefits of chastity, lessons which foster personal growth and does not undermine it, as sex education does in its current crass - really pornographic - formulation.

Natural family planning is within the reach of non-Christian as well as Christian families. The actuality of its practice refutes theories that it will not be done. Of approximately one million couples in Japan who practice the periodic abstinence method of family planning, only a minority are Catholics. Of late the number is growing, as more than 4,000 couples per month are purchasing L Sophia, a sophisticated thermometer which enters data automatically into a mini-computer and then displays the fertile days of the cycle. Few of the 40,000 couples in Calcutta's slums to whom the Sisters of Mother Teresa taught NFP successfully are Catholics. And so on around the globe. I venture to guess that right now, more non-Catholics than Catholics practice natural family planning. God's laws for family life are equally good for all peoples. NFP is for all couples, not just Catholics.

Within marriage, "Family planning following natural methods contribute to the education and maturation of the couples, especially in the poorer areas," said the Pope to Brazil's children in Salvador (Oct. 21, 1991). The Church also recommends, for reasons of maturity, postponing marriage until after graduation, which indirectly tends to lower the birth rate.

The educational activities of the Church - as well as those of other societal forces - are a major help for developing nations to achieve a higher level of production and general living standard. The Church's investment in the education of the new generation pays rich dividends eventually. The Church, then, by fostering education, especially in the developing countries, helps the people to develop that human potential which eventually enables the poor to become rich through their own efforts.

Encouraging celibacy will help greatly too. Consider how the Church's priests and religious have greatly impacted the world through their celibate vocations -- education, pastoring and health care come quickly to mind.

The program of the Church has no place for "population targets" and the promotion of contraception. Nor does she promote natural family planning for the achievement of demographic objectives. The Church blesses well-ordered large families, and asks parents to be generous to their children by providing them with brothers and sisters. She urges that all married couples and all young people be given access to knowledge about the fertile times of the cycle, and that they be educated in chastity. The signs of the times point to the need of a day of atonement to ask God's forgiveness for humankind's current massive contraception, abortion and sterilization.