Poverty not reduced by population control, states Vatican’s UN observer

Archbishop Francis Chullikatt Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the UN CNA World Catholic News 4 13 11 Archbishop Francis Chullikatt, Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the U.N.

The chief Vatican representative to the United Nations said that pushing population control methods on underdeveloped countries offends human dignity and ultimately proves ineffective in eradicating global poverty.

At a U.N. gathering on April 12, Vatican observer Archbishop Francis Chullikatt condemned international efforts intended to stifle population growth – such as birth control distribution or sterilization –  in poor nations worldwide.

“This distorted world-view regards the poor as a problem to be commoditized and managed as if they were inconsequential objects rather than as unique persons,” he said.

In his remarks to the Commission on Population and Development – which focused on the theme of “Fertility, reproductive health and development” – the archbishop called instead for global education and economic initiatives to help impoverished families “realize their full potential.”

“Unfortunately many discussions in the present day continue to be led by a false notion that, in the context of population growth, the very act of giving life is something to be feared rather than affirmed,” he said.

“This flawed understanding leads to the distorted view that population growth, especially among the poor, must be decreased in order to address poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition.”

Archbishop Chullikatt decried what he called the “consistently disproven” theory that population increase will devastate the environment, lead to global competition and confrontation for resources, and undermine the ability of women to interact fully with society.

“These apprehensions contribute to the advancement of forms of reproductive technology which denigrate the nature of human sexuality” and have also led to governments adopting laws and policies which discourage parents “from exercising their fundamental right to have children free of coercion,” the Vatican observer said.

Archbishop Chullikatt said that instead of focusing on political and financial efforts to reduce the number of poor “through methods which trivialize marriage and the family and deny the very right to life of unborn children, let us instead focus these resources on providing the promised development assistance to the approximately 920 million people living on less than $1.25 per day.”

“Let us feed the nearly 1 billion people who are malnourished, and let us provide skilled birth attendants at every birth to reduce the incidents of maternal and child mortality.”

“Let us achieve our promise of providing primary education to the 69 million children who risk becoming another generation without such basic assistance,” he added. “These children of today will be the citizens of tomorrow who have much to contribute to the welfare and common good of all.”

“It is important that the international community continue to reflect on the relationship between population and development,” the archbishop said. “Yet, in doing so, governments must always remember that people are an asset and not a liability.”

“The more governments recognize this, the more they will be able to put in place programs and policies that truly advance the well-being of all persons, and thus contribute to the development of the entire human community.”

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