Pope Francis has used his much anticipated Encyclical, entitled Laudato Si, on the environment to condemn population control and abortion. The document has been greatly anticipated by political leaders and environmentalist activists around the world. Sadly some of these have records of pushing for population control and abortion.
The Holy Father’s words will give them pause to reflect on the inconsistencies in their ethical concerns for the environment. Pope Francis notes in the document that “Since everything is interrelated, concern for the protection of nature is also incompatible with the justification of abortion. How can we genuinely teach the importance of concern for other vulnerable beings, however troublesome or inconvenient they may be, if we fail to protect a human embryo, even when its presence is uncomfortable and creates difficulties?” He continues by quoting his predecessor Pope Benedict, “If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of the new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away” (Laudato Si, paragraph 50) (Emphasis added).
The environment exists for the sake of humanity and whilst that demands an ethical stewardship of the world’s resources, those who see population growth as a problem are seriously wrong. The Pope identifies the challenges of population density imbalances at national and global levels.
He notes that “instead of resolving the problems of the poor and thinking of how the world can be different, some can only propose a reduction in the birth rate. At times, developing countries face forms of international pressure which make economic assistance contingent on certain policies of ‘reproductive health’… it must nonetheless be recognized that demographic growth is fully compatible with an integral and shared development” (Laudato Si, paragraph 50).