Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Permanent Observer of the Holy See before the United Nations, noted the “serious threat” to the future of developed nations posed by the “rapid decrease in the global rate of population growth” since the 1990’s and stressed the need for an ethical approach in planning population policies, and the responsibility of governments to create the proper conditions in which couples can plan their family in liberty.
In his address, on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Cairo summit on Population and Development held last week, Archbishop Migliore noted the threats posed by the widening gap between rich and poor and the rising phenomenon of migration, and then keyed in on the theme of population development, which the Cairo Conference highlighted, he recalled, as being inseparable from the “development and flourishing of each human being.”
He noted that the Vatican, which encourages “accurate and objective assessments of population issues and global solidarity in regard to development strategies… is concerned that proper attention is not always given to the comprehensive set of principles, including the ethical ones, essential in determining the right response to the demographic, sociological and public policy analyses of the data on population trends.”
“Population policy,” he noted, “is only one part of an overall strategy for the betterment of humanity. It is essential that any discussion of population policies … be pursued with due consideration for the social, cultural and spiritual dimensions of every human being.”
“It would therefore be wiser if focus were placed upon the formulation of population policies that promoted a responsible kind of personal liberty, instead of one that was too narrowly defined,” he said.
He underscored that “the duty to safeguard the family demands that special attention be given to securing for husband and wife the liberty to decide responsibly, free from all social or legal coercion, the number of children they will have and the spacing of their births,” and said that governments and other social agencies should “help create the social conditions” that make this liberty possible.
“We know that responsible parenthood is not a question of unlimited procreation or lack of awareness of what is involved in rearing children, but it also involves the right of parents to use their liberty wisely. Moreover, couples that choose to have large families deserve to be supported,” he stressed.
He concluded by emphasizing the educational duty faced by parents and governments to challenge young people with a “demanding ethic which fully respects their dignity and which leads them to the wisdom which is needed in order to face the many demands of life.”