Tuesday, November 15, 2005

I had dinner with a two friends last Saturday. During the course of the evening one friend piped in that he felt the Catholic Church was responsible for overpopulation due to their policy on birth control.

Now - why a person of no faith would want to get into a debate about doctrine with two people of deep faith is beyond me but...

I replied that he just didn't understand the church's stance. He insisted he did. We went round and round. Clearly he was repeating a lot of anti-Catholic misinformation. But the part that really floored me was that he felt people of wealth had no need to help the less fortunate since they'd gotten themselves into that predicament in the first place. That all this was to be blamed on the church. I was really quite shocked at that.

Starving people are not thinking about sex. They're wondering where their next meal will come from. How they will live to see tomorrow when disease is rampant. How they can send their kids to school with no shoes.

Sadly, my friend didn't think any of this mattered. He only felt we needed to stop them from having children.

In the end, he revealed that he was specifically speaking about India. How can the Catholic Church be responsible for overpopulation in a nation that is 80% Hindu and only 2% Christian. Granted the majority percentage of Christian denominations in that 2% is Catholic. But still. 1% vs 80%

I knew my church was mighty but I had no idea we as 1% could over shadow a faith of 80%

On the off chance that I was wrong, I spent some time yesterday researching overpopulation. Specifically in India.

Overpopulation.com defines overpopulation :

Overpopulation is a term that refers to a condition in which the density enlarges to a limit that provokes the environmental deterioration, a drop in the quality of life, or a population collapse.

The government in India implemented a family planning program back in 1958. Their population increase has reduced by 47% according to Overpopulation.com.

In 1994 they implemented a new population program pushing birth control. Sadly, their main birth control is sterilization - Of women. 67% of women vs 9% of men. The problem with this is their poor conditions and the invasiveness of sterilizing women - as opposed to the ease and NONinvasiveness of sterilizing men - has caused the mortality rate among women in India to skyrocket.

Still, India's way worked far better than China's, with the government enforcing a one child law and abortion at gunpoint.

But - India's population problem is not the reason for poverty and starvation. Improper distribution of wealth is. A great number of India's people are simple farmers. They support themselves and live happily. A great many go into the big cities hoping for wealth or looking for a less severe life. Illiterate farmers can't find work and end up in slums. Millions moving into big cities like Bombay, Delhi, Madras and Bangladore - unable to support themselves.

For one job in any of these cities 1000 people apply.

This is what's causing the overpopulation. A large number of people in one area - unable to handle the growth. No jobs. Substandard housing.

The sad part is - McDonalds has gone to India now. So we have a poor family living in a shack. Three starving to death and one obese.

Lastly, I found this article by Dr. Brian Kopp
  • Contraceptive Imperialism and Third World Poverty

  • I think this is the sort of misinformation my friend has ingested. In the event you don't have time to read the article - here is a snippet:

    As the problem of “poverty” has been transmuted into the problem of “overpopulation” so have our consciences been mollified. We no longer feel so acutely our duty to make sacrifices in order to alleviate third world suffering with food, shelter, infrastructure, and the means to develop third world economies. We now can say, “It’s your fault. If you’d just stop making babies, you wouldn’t be living in poverty.”

    Instead of corn meal, we ship them condoms. Rather than artificial contraceptives, which can have life threatening complications, always seem to be paired with abortion, and frequently undermine third world societal structures, there is the Church’s alternative of Natural Family Planning. Safe, cheap, and effective, this method confers considerable power to couples to control their fertility for both achieving and, when couples have a serious reason to do so, preventing conception. It is time the misconception that Catholicism is synonymous with ineffective birth control and that her teachings against abortion and contraception are the major hurdle in eliminating poverty around the world be laid to rest.

    Now... Let me take a minute here to talk about the church's stance on birth control. Let's get real. If we believe God created the universe, plant, animal and man - then we really don't believe a little piece of synthetic material is going to stop HIM from giving you a child. No pill. There's even a story out there about a child who survived being aborted. Sadly, her twin brother did not.

    The church's stance is about respect. Deep meaningful respect. Respect for each other. One is never to have "meaningless sex" with one's partner. How would my friend have felt if I'd let fly with the fact that our Holy Father John Paul the Great wrote a book when he was still a cardinal. A book about marriage. A book that stated it's every Catholic husband's duty to make certain his wife is satisfied during their love making.

    Sex should be nurturing. These days sex is recreation. These days it's cool to be an "urban cougar" - that is an older woman who goes after younger men and uses them like exercise equipment.

    When speaking about this with a friend of mine who's wife is a nurse, he explained that in many third world countries women are little more than cattle. They aren't allowed to say no to their husbands. Even when they are provided with condoms the men see it as a slight against their masculinity and refuse to use them. Here, the church's stance on reverence for all life is of utmost importance.

    "The meaning of life is found in giving and receiving love, and in this light human sexuality and procreation reach their true and full significance... Respect for life requires that science and technology should always be at the service of man and his integral development. Society as a whole must respect, defend and promote the dignity of every human person, at every moment and in every condition of that person's life."

    —Pope John Paul II Evangelium Vitae, 81

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