Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, delivered a strongly worded speech yesterday, sharply criticizing the “population reduction” mentality defended by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a Planned Parenthood gala last Friday.
The Papal Nuncio began his opening remarks—a time usually reserved for non-polemical issues—by denouncing the anti-life attitude he saw in the preparatory documents for the U.N. summit for the International Conference on Population and Development (known as Cairo +15).
“In reading the preparatory documents for this session of the Commission one cannot help but get the impression that populations are seen as the hindrance to greater social and economic development rather than vital contributors to the success of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and greater sustainable development,” Archbishop Migliore said.
The Permanent Observer of the Holy See slammed “the preparatory statements by some NGOs,” which “give the impression that the very institution which launched the MDGs fifteen years ago is giving priority to population control and getting the poor to accept these arrangements rather than primarily focusing upon its commitments to addressing education, basic health care, access to water, sanitation and employment.”
Migliore recalled that 15 years ago “many demographic experts and politicians” were forecasting an apocalyptic vision of a “population explosion.”
Nevertheless, “now, fifteen years later, the population growth has begun to slow, food production continues to rise to the point where it is capable of supporting a larger global population and is even being diverted to the production of fuel.”
The Apostolic Nuncio found “almost ironic” the fact that “environmental destruction is perpetrated primarily by States with lower growth rates and that developed countries are supporting population growth at home while simultaneously working to reduce it in developing countries.”
According to Migliore, experts agree that the increased birth rates in Africa represent “an unprecedented advantage in economic terms over regions whose ageing populations show growing economic challenges.”
But, “to capitalize on this opportunity, for Africa and ultimately for the whole world, greater commitment must be made to provide economic assistance and investment in human capital and infrastructure to support economic growth.”
Directly opposing the recently renewed U.S. commitment to population control, Archbishop Migliore said that “additional funding programs which focus upon lowering population growth rather than fostering an environment for development will slow, not expedite, the achievement of the MDGs.”
“Through its continued presence and emphasis on providing quality and affordable education, health care, access to food and respect for all human rights, the Holy See and its various organizations show that care for the poor, along with overall poverty reduction, serves as a model for a human centered approach to development,” the Archbishop said.
“My delegation reaffirms its reservations made at the Cairo and Beijing Conferences as well as its consistent affirmation that abortion is not a legitimate form of sexual and reproductive health, rights or services,” he stressed.
“Likewise, it hopes that international organizations and policymakers maintain or, where necessary, redirect public efforts towards the human centered approach to achieving the MDGs,” Migliore concluded.