Skip to content

Anti-Environmentalism is Selfish and Sinful

September 3, 2010

It is one of the oddest things to try to make Pope Benedict a figure to combat environmentalists. Of course, as with all things, he seeks balance. He understands that environmental concerns have to be practiced by proper methods. However, to take a few statements of his out of context and to use them to suggest environmentalism is working against humanity is to do violence to the teachings of the Pope. To suggest that those who are concerned with climate change have it out against humanity must, in the end, say the Pope himself has it out against humanity. For he, among many others, find climate change to be a serious concern:

Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family. No nation or business sector can ignore the ethical implications present in all economic and social development (Pope Benedict, Letter to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, Sept 7 2007). 

While some might use the environment for an anti-human policy, this use can go two-ways. Some, of course, have no love for humanity, and have no concern with the harm they do to humanity for the sake of the environment.  But many who complain about environmentalists, saying they hate humanity, show their own disdain for their brothers and sisters in many of the policies and activities they engage. Indeed, Pope Benedict has pointed out how modern, consumer societies can easily create an ideology of humanity as lord over nature and use that to ignore the stewardship humanity is to have over nature. That is, without God, the materialistic worldview ends up being dominated by selfishness, a selfishness which not only ignores, but cares less about the results of one’s own use of the world’s resources:

Bearing in mind our common responsibility for creation (cf. n. 51), the Church is not only committed to promoting the protection of land, water and air as gifts of the Creator destined to everyone but above all she invites others and works herself to protect mankind from self-destruction. In fact, “when “human ecology’ is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits” (ibid.). Is it not true that an irresponsible use of creation begins precisely where God is marginalized or even denied? If the relationship between human creatures and the Creator is forgotten, matter is reduced to a selfish possession, man becomes the “last word”, and the purpose of human existence is reduced to a scramble for the maximum number of possessions possible (Pope Benedict, General Audience, August 26, 2009).

A real anti-human position is found in those who foster ambivalence or hostility toward environmental concerns. The reason is simple: it is founded upon an improper anthropology, one of individualism which denies the interdependent relationship that not only exists between persons, but with humanity and the earth. It is for this reason Pope Benedict points out environmentalism, properly followed, is a part of our human obligation to God:

In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I noted that integral human development is closely linked to the obligations which flow from man’s relationship with the natural environment. The environment must be seen as God’s gift to all people, and the use we make of it entails a shared responsibility for all humanity, especially the poor and future generations. I also observed that whenever nature, and human beings in particular, are seen merely as products of chance or an evolutionary determinism, our overall sense of responsibility wanes. On the other hand, seeing creation as God’s gift to humanity helps us understand our vocation and worth as human beings. With the Psalmist, we can exclaim with wonder: “When I look at your heavens, the work of your hands, the moon and the stars which you have established; what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps 8:4-5). Contemplating the beauty of creation inspires us to recognize the love of the Creator, that Love which “moves the sun and the other stars”  (Pope Benedict, Message For World Peace Day, Jan 1, 2010).

Denying our duty to God is sin, and encouraging others to sin is a grave mistake indeed.  Let us not use the abuses and sins of others as an excuse to deny our own responsibility to creation.

About these ads
54 Comments
  1. September 3, 2010 8:07 am

    to use them to suggest environmentalism is working against humanity is to do violence to the teachings of the Pope.

    Strawman. Joe specifically limited his post to the emerging view in some quarters of the environmental that human life ought to be limited in order to save the environment. As joe rightfully points out, Benedict has been one of those who is very concerned about the environment that has strongly condemned that view.

    • September 3, 2010 8:08 am

      Michael:

      Not a strawman… his own post on TAC pointing to the article reads:

      In my latest piece at IC, I examine the inhuman agenda behind the fight against “climate change.”

      Not a strawman at all. He mocks responses to climate change, and suggests it is all about some anti-human agenda (hence the word “the”). He is indeed misappropriating Pope Benedict; he would do well to point out Benedict’s own agreement for the need to work on the issue of climate change (as I quoted in my post here). That he doesn’t do so, I would suggest, is indicative of his attempting to make Benedict’s teaching contrary to Benedict’s own position. Seriously, Joe’s contempt for environmentalism is easily seen through his words. What I read from him is something along the lines of: “Oh yeah, there might be some concern, but it’s not much; let me tell you the real problem…”

  2. Jeff permalink
    September 3, 2010 9:16 am

    I think the climate change folk have to get some better public relations people.

    I happen to sympathize with with global warming science, but you must admit, by using the hideous spokesmen they do, the environmentalists welcome the derision they rightly receive.

    Hint to the left: let grown-ups make your case and you’ll be fine. Until then, I wonder if someone could release my [i]second chakra[/i].

  3. September 3, 2010 9:39 am

    Joe expresses disagreement with the environmental movement — or at least the vast majority of its practitioners — based on the fact that woven thickly through the modern environmental movement is a very large amount of population control and generally anti-human ideology. That doesn’t necessarily mean that in response he believes we should destroy or neglect the planet. Rather, he’s pointing out the deep moral and philosophical problems with environmentalism as we see it.

    Your attack on Joe (and attempt to portray his as opposing what Benedict XVI says) is actually pretty similar to the attacks that are often leveled against you when you attack the political pro-life movement. You clearly have no problem believing it’s possible to scorn the pro-life movement, while being pro-life. Perhaps it would be wise to, in return, believe that it’s possible to value stewardship of creation while scorning the political environmentalist movement.

    • September 3, 2010 9:58 am

      Joe expresses disagreement with the environmental movement — or at least the vast majority of its practitioners — based on the fact that woven thickly through the modern environmental movement is a very large amount of population control and generally anti-human ideology.

      That is the claim, but this claim is entirely false. THIS IS THE REAL STRAWMAN in the discussion. The whole “they are really anti-human, seeking to destroy humanity” position is not the “majority” of those supportive of environmental ethics. To state this is a purposeful distortion. This is the continuous lie being represented and it is for the sake of anti-Catholic economic policies.

  4. September 3, 2010 9:41 am

    Our rights and responsibilities with respect to the natural world have been addressed in many recent social encyclicals, including Pope Benedict XVI’s Caritas in Veritate. While the pope is quite clear that we are to respect the environment as God’s gift to all mankind, he also issues a grave warning against its elevation above human beings

    Far more dangerous is an emerging tendency to view human beings in general, and childbearing in particular, as one of the chief threats to the environment.

    Though I disagree with many of the measures proposed by unelected international bodies to regulate emissions, there are sincere Catholics who are convinced that drastic measures must be taken to combat climate change and other environmental problems. They should have a full understanding of the philosophy and methods of those who have placed themselves in charge of addressing these problems, lest they end up supporting an international assault on human life and the family.

    Joe might not like the environmental movement, but it’s clear that in the IC post he gives clear acknowledgment that Benedict is a faithful Catholic who instructs us to work to protect the environment. Perhaps Joe is bregrudging (I have no idea where Joe is on climate change), but begruding is not “doing violence to his teachings.” Although he does not specifically address climate change, his article was broader than climate change, as environmentalists who support population reduction do so for more reasons than simply climate change.

    You very well might have wished Joe had written a different post, one that called Catholics to action on climate change. But he didn’t and he didn’t have to. The environmental movement in growing increasingly comfortable with the notion that human life ought to be prevented in order to save the environment. While not all environmentalists and certainly not the pope think this, and while this doesn’t bear on their claims about climate change, as Catholics it is a disturbing trend which is worthy of note.

    • September 3, 2010 10:03 am

      Michael

      Once again, I quoted what he said his post was about, which indicates the general point of it. Once again, he doesn’t even point out that Pope Benedict supports the need to be concerned about climate change; more importantly, he entirely ignores the anti-humanism integral in the selfishness of those who are seeking to mock environmentalism (including his own).

      “The environmental movement is growing increasingly comfortable with the notion that human life ought to be prevented…” er, again, this is the strawman. That there are some like this I do not deny; but to ignore the reverse and have such a lopsided text is, I would say, running contrary to the Church’s own position.

  5. September 3, 2010 10:15 am

    It’s obviously difficult to substantiate a claim one way or another as to what “the ‘majority’ of those supportive of environmental ethics” think or do — especially as who it is that is supporitive of environmental ethics will vary depending on who you ask. (For instance, some people you think are not supportive of “environmental ethics” may in fact think themselves to be so. Some who think they are environmentalist might not consider you to be so, etc.)

    This much I can say with relative surety: I have had a great many self described environmentalists tell me that the population of the earth must be much smaller very soon (I’m frequently told it should be 1-2 billion) or else catastrophic consequences will result. There are many zero population growth or negative population growth advocates among the environmental movement.

    And at a more experiential level:

    – One of my good friends, who is a very politically left-leaning young Catholic, spent a while working as an intern at Green Peace, and told me afterwards that the attitudes there towards abortion, population control and euthenasia were so strong he found himself almost wanting to become conservative.

    – Having five children, I’ve frequently found myself at the receiving end of angry “why would you do that to the planet” or “I could never pollute the planet like that” comments from self-described environmentalist co-workers.

    These may well not be reflective of your experience in environmental circles or of how you think environmentalism should be, but it certainly as set of experiences that I have heard described by multiple people and thus doubtless bears some reflection of a reality about the environmental movement.

    As someone who so frequently calls out the unpleasant elements of the pro-life movement, I would think you would be in a particularly good position to engage in self-examination in regards to the environmental movement.

    • September 3, 2010 10:25 am

      DC

      Even the Church looks into the question of resources and population; it is a legitimate question and concern, and one the Church also does not repudiate. What it rejects are methods that many propose for this, however, it often offers its own (such as NFP).

      And being single, unmarried, and without children, I often get all kinds of ridicule by “good Catholics” who say something must be wrong with me for not being married with many children (I’ve deleted comments I’ve gotten on here which have done just that).

      Nonetheless, as for environmentalism, we must recognize the Church is one of the leaders in the movement. I will agree with many environmentalists are off. It is clear that Joe 1) is misrepresenting the movement and concern (the word “the” is indicative, this is 2) being used as an ad homimen against environmentalism itself and 3) it is not too difficult to find the egotistical selfishness beneath this discussion.

  6. Joe Hargrave permalink
    September 3, 2010 10:41 am

    Karlson,

    My guess is that even your co-bloggers will see how badly you’ve misrepresented my own concerns.

  7. September 3, 2010 11:55 am

    And being single, unmarried, and without children, I often get all kinds of ridicule by “good Catholics” who say something must be wrong with me for not being married with many children (I’ve deleted comments I’ve gotten on here which have done just that).

    Overall, I find it very hard to believe that there is equal prejudice against those who are not married among Catholics as a group as there is condemnation of those who have children (particularly more than two children) among self-identified environmentalists. (We have celibate clergy, for goodness sake, and generally are pretty protective of the institution.) I’ll be the first to admit, however, that I’m unable to prove this.

    Nonetheless, as for environmentalism, we must recognize the Church is one of the leaders in the movement.

    We must recognize that the Church teaches us to be good stewards of creation. I think one would be highly mistaken to imagine that if one talked to the highest profile environmentalists activists in the US, or the world generally, they would list the Church or Benedict XVI as leaders in the movement.

    Rightly or wrongly, the environmentalist movement does not identify itself with Catholicism the way the pro-life movement does. That doesn’t mean that the Church does not have wisdom to give in regards to how to treat the environment, but those ideas are clearly not the driving force behind the political environmental movement that actually exists in the wider society.

  8. September 3, 2010 11:58 am

    Even the Church looks into the question of resources and population; it is a legitimate question and concern, and one the Church also does not repudiate. What it rejects are methods that many propose for this, however, it often offers its own (such as NFP).

    I think it would, at best, be a major reach to argue that a claim that the human population must be reduced to one sixth its present level is an urgent necessity — if only because doing so via the means the Church approves would be obviously impossible. There is a reason why advocates of these things are strong supporters of sterilization, contraception and abortion.

  9. Kevin permalink
    September 3, 2010 12:14 pm

    Even the Church looks into the question of resources and population; it is a legitimate question and concern, and one the Church also does not repudiate. What it rejects are methods that many propose for this, however, it often offers its own (such as NFP).

    The Church in no way shape or form NFP as its method for depopulation nor has it ever broached the subject of depopulation except to condemn it. You completely misunderstand the use of NFP and the Catholic sacrament of marriage if that was the intent of this statement.

  10. phosphorious permalink
    September 3, 2010 12:44 pm

    Mr. Hargrave’s articel was perfectly acceptable, drawing the distinction that Darwinian Catholic makes between “environmentalism” and the environmentalists there actually are.

    But I share Henry Karlson’s misgivings. The vast majority of conservatives simply dismiss “climate change” as a hoax, and are eager to misrepresent the environmentalist side for reasons having more to do with a love of industry than a love of humanity. So the depiction of environmentalists as anti-humanist, whatever grain of truth it might contain, seems designed to play to conservative prejudices (prejudices ably manifested in Jeff’s first comment above).

    Given too, that the “life issues” are often used to cement conservative opinion against. . . well just about anything, then I’m willing to forgive Henry for being somewhat suspicious of Mr. Hargrave’s motives in that piece.

  11. September 3, 2010 12:48 pm

    Once again, I quoted what he said his post was about, which indicates the general point of it.

    That’s fantastic. I quoted the post itself which clearly shows that’s not the case.

    again, this is the strawman. That there are some like this I do not deny; but to ignore the reverse and have such a lopsided text is, I would say, running contrary to the Church’s own position.

    That’s a different argument. You’re arguing that Joe is wrong in how broadly he paints the brush on the environmental movement. But in doing this he’s not attacking the pope or doing violence to his teachings. Just b/c the Church is a leader in the movement does not mean the movement in general or parties in the movement or immune from criticism-as every VN post on the pro-life movement will attest to.

  12. Austin Ruse permalink
    September 3, 2010 1:12 pm

    Henry,

    The Church does not promote NFP for the purposes of overall fertility reduction and population control. The reasons for NFP are not macro, they are micro; for individual couples who have determined for grave reasons, according to their own consciences, that they cannot presently have a baby.

    • September 3, 2010 2:12 pm

      Quickly

      Joe has TWO posts, and I directly quoted one where he explained what the point of the other one is about. And he makes it clear it is about “the” agenda of those fighting climate change, and it is an anti-human one. that is absurd.

      Second, the Church indeed has suggested NFP techniques to “space out children” or “those who would have a burden having more children.” To suggest otherwise is dishonesty. NFP is suggested for such, I would say, as a dispensation — nonetheless, one needs to look into the discussions of family planning in Catholic teachings to see it is indeed planning, including limiting family size if needed.

  13. Austin Ruse permalink
    September 3, 2010 2:39 pm

    The church does not teach NFP forth purposes of reducing fertility rates in regions, countries, or oglobally as you seem to suggest above. NFP is for individual couples who have good reason to avoid pregnancy for a time. I doubt very much if the church would consider environmental concerns or concerns about overpopulation as valid reasons for a couple to use NFP.

  14. September 3, 2010 2:46 pm

    Joe has TWO posts, and I directly quoted one…

    Give me a break, Henry. The purpose of the second one was just to link to the full article; obviously the full article had his full views on the subject, and it makes the appropriate distinctions.

    NFP is suggested for such, I would say, as a dispensation — nonetheless, one needs to look into the discussions of family planning in Catholic teachings to see it is indeed planning, including limiting family size if needed.

    But the point is that this has nothing to do with population control. It is a disposition related to the difficulties attendant to caring for and raising children, not saving the environment.

    • September 3, 2010 2:53 pm

      John Henry

      If the family house is over-populated that another child is too much a burden, they are suggested to use NFP to control their house population. Think this through — our globe is our common household. NFP is indeed being used for population control. The concern is always forced population control through evil means — to suggest the idea of population control through just means is unacceptable is to say everyone must have as many children as possible. The Church doesn’t say this, and indeed, again, if you read the literature of NFP, concerns of over-burden are indeed one of the reasons why NFP is suggested.

      And the short post with a link nonetheless gives an interpretative scheme; don’t complain if it points out his own purpose, which is to ridicule those who desire environmental protection from climate control and say they have an anti-human agenda.

      • September 3, 2010 3:12 pm

        Moreover:

        2372 The state has a responsibility for its citizens’ well-being. In this capacity it is legitimate for it to intervene to orient the demography of the population. This can be done by means of objective and respectful information, but certainly not by authoritarian, coercive measures. The state may not legitimately usurp the initiative of spouses, who have the primary responsibility for the procreation and education of their children.162 In this area, it is not authorized to employ means contrary to the moral law.

        As I said, the church recognizes the issue, and recognizes the issue of the state in following proper, moral ways of dealing with population (just as it requires proper, moral ways to deal with border security and other concerns).

        We can see how Pope Benedict answered a discussion on overpopulation, where he did not disagree, but proposed where he thinks a solution is to be found, which goes with what I have said that the issue is to find the proper solution:

        http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/speeches/2006/august/documents/hf_ben-xvi_spe_20060805_intervista_en.html

        DW: Holy Father, my question is linked to that of Fr von Gemmingen. Believers throughout the world are waiting for the Catholic Church to answer the most urgent global problems such as AIDS and overpopulation. Why does the Catholic Church pay so much attention to moral issues rather than suggesting concrete solutions to these problems that are so crucial to humanity, in Africa, for example?

        Benedict XVI: So that is the problem: do we really pay so much attention to moral issues? I think – I am more and more convinced after my conversations with the African Bishops – that the basic question, if we want to move ahead in this field, is about education, formation. Progress becomes true progress only if it serves the human person and if the human person grows: not only in terms of his or her technical power, but also in his or her moral awareness. I believe that the real problem of our historical moment lies in the imbalance between the incredibly fast growth of our technical power and that of our moral capacity, which has not grown in proportion. That is why the formation of the human person is the true recipe, the key to it all, I would say, and this is what the Church proposes. Briefly speaking, this formation has a dual dimension: of course, we have to learn, to acquire knowledge, ability, know-how, as they say. In this sense Europe and in the last decades America have done a lot, and that is important. But if we only teach know-how, if we only teach how to build and to use machines and how to use contraceptives, then we should not be surprised when we find ourselves facing wars and AIDS epidemics; because we need two dimensions: simultaneously, we need the formation of the heart, if I can express myself in this way, with which the human person acquires points of reference and learns how to use the techniques correctly. And that is what we try to do. Throughout Africa and in many countries in Asia, we have a vast network of every level of school where people can first of all learn, form a true conscience and acquire professional ability which gives them autonomy and freedom. But in these schools we try to communicate more than know-how; rather, we try to form human beings capable of reconciliation, who know that we must build and not destroy, and who have the necessary references to be able to live together. In much of Africa, relations between Christians and Muslims are exemplary. The Bishops have formed common commissions together with the Muslims to try and create peace in situations of conflict. This schools network, dedicated to human learning and formation, is very important. It is completed by a network of hospitals and assistance centres that reach even the most remote villages. In many areas, following the destruction of war, the Church is the only authority – not authority but structure – that remains intact. This is a fact! We offer treatment, treatment to AIDS victims too, and we offer education, helping to establish good relationships with others. So I think we should correct that image that sees the Church as spreading severe “no’s”. We work a lot in Africa so that the various dimensions of formation can be integrated and so that it will become possible to overcome violence and epidemics, that include malaria and tuberculosis as well.

        Then we can read statements from people like Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, who pointed out that urban centers are indeed being affected by increase in population and creating massive problems. Thus, he said:

        Despite the fact that it is nearly sixty years since the Assembly called upon all member countries implement the Declaration, there are still today over one billion homeless people in the world. These are either directly homeless or they are those who do not have adequate access to housing or shelter. It is estimated that in the world’s cities there are more than 100 million street children and millions who live in sprawling slum settlements. Every day some 50,000 people, mostly women and children, die as a result of poor shelter, polluted water and inadequate sanitation.

        The numbers are steadily rising. It is expected for the global urban population to double over the next 50 years from 2.5 billion to 5 billion, as a result of rapid overpopulation and globalisation. Statistics in this field are never easy to gather, but they bear witness to the reality of a global pandemic. Western Europe is now seeing homelessness at its highest level since the end of the Second World War, with an estimated 3 million Europeans and in the United States there are said to be 3.5 million homeless with up to 1.4 million of these being children.

        The concern is real and is talked about and taken seriously.

        • September 3, 2010 3:17 pm

          phos

          I would point out that Joe’s own words as to the point of his post gives us the lens in which we are to view it, and indeed, that it is going out to — and getting praised by — those who are otherwise hostile to environmental concerns, without any response by Joe to help encourage them to the full picture — demonstrates this further. It is quite easy to see the talking points in his post.

  15. Austin Ruse permalink
    September 3, 2010 3:35 pm

    The Secretary Emeritus of the Pontifical Council on Migration hardly establishes Church teaching such that an individual couple may use NFP for the purposes of reducing the total fertility rate of a country. He doesn’t even say that, he merely mentions “overpopulation” in the context of urbanization. More than a couple of leaps there, Henry.

    • September 3, 2010 3:39 pm

      Austin

      First, read the catechism — where it points out states can use information to deal with the demography of the population. What kind of information would there be which the Church gives? NFP.

      Second, the Cardinal is pointing out how overpopulation in the world leads to problems in the cities. Once again, if you want to argue there are no concerns with overpopulation, then what is being discussed about the problems in the cities would have to be shown as having no connection with overpopulation. Indeed, that it is clear that it is an issue of population demonstrates that there are indeed limits to population sizes. Once again, the Church discusses the issue, and doesn’t summarily dismiss it — it does, however, think there are more concerns as the papal quote demonstrates.

  16. September 3, 2010 3:40 pm

    Lots of conservatives are concerned about the Environment Look at Ducks Unlimted. That organization is filled wiht a lot of conservatives and they do good work

  17. Joe Hargrave permalink
    September 3, 2010 3:40 pm

    I’m glad I wrote what I did in that small blurb. It exposed here for all to see just how you operate.

    Get some help, Henry.

  18. September 3, 2010 3:41 pm

    However on another note I wish conservatives and Catholic conservatives would start exposing the radical environmental agenda that is often behind the immigration debate.

    Some of the leading voices that are highlighted have at their core quite a radical population control mentality

  19. September 3, 2010 3:45 pm

    Look, I know how it is when one throws out a claim casually and then find oneself digging in deeper and deeper in an attempt to defend it — I find myself in that position a little too often for comfort.

    But really, are you seriously trying to argue that the Church agrees with and supports the idea, widespread in the environmental movement, that in order to decrease human impact on the planet it is essential that we drastically reduce the number of human being on the earth though encouraging most people to have 0 to 2 children?

    Certainly, it is moral and prudent for a married couple to take into account whether than can support more children given their current shelter and resources, and they may use NFP to avoid conceiving more children in situations where they believe this necessary for family wellbeing. That could, if a general region is in great distress in regards to resources, result in slowed population growth or even shrinkage.

    But this is a very long way from saying that having six billion human persons in the world is a problem and we need to take action to make sure there are fewer. None of the quotes you’ve provided suggest that the Church thinks along these lines.

    Do you really think that the Church is in line with the goals of environmentally-motivated population control, and only wishes to provide guidance as to the appropriate means of achieving this end?

    • September 3, 2010 3:50 pm

      DC

      What I said is that the Church takes the concern seriously. It moreover does suggest that states can give information to help with population control — what kind of information would this be? NFP is the kind the Church provides, and I doubt they would deny states giving NFP lessons. I never said anything about size of families or the like; my point is that concern for overpopulation is there, and taken seriously, as is the ramification of overpopulation (and urban overpopulation IS overpopulation). Thus, I am glad you even agree that this is a possible way to look at it:

      Certainly, it is moral and prudent for a married couple to take into account whether than can support more children given their current shelter and resources, and they may use NFP to avoid conceiving more children in situations where they believe this necessary for family wellbeing. That could, if a general region is in great distress in regards to resources, result in slowed population growth or even shrinkage.

      But this is a very long way from saying that having six billion human persons in the world is a problem and we need to take action to make sure there are fewer.

      If one looks at the issues of overpopulation, one will find many questions. Even Pope Benedict points out, in his interview, that currently we are not producing in proportion to the population growth and that is a problem, a moral concern. I have pointed out there are bad answers, immoral answers, which cannot be accepted — that, however, does not mean the problem and concern is no longer valid. And with the Pope’s discussion of the moral concern, yes, I think the Church recognizes a moral concern with the issue of population, and there are limits to the population of a given society, limits which are based in part in how the society itself is run.

  20. September 3, 2010 3:58 pm

    However on another note I wish conservatives and Catholic conservatives would start exposing the radical environmental agenda that is often behind the immigration debate.

    Huh? Please explain.

  21. Austin Ruse permalink
    September 3, 2010 4:05 pm

    Perhaps you are right, Henry. I would be eager to see where the Church actually says, however, that a couple may avoid pregnancy because of concerns of global overpopulation.

  22. Austin Ruse permalink
    September 3, 2010 4:10 pm

    YOu are better at this than i am, Henry, but i do believe that one of the documents of Vatican II actually mentions concerns about population growth rates.

    • September 3, 2010 4:19 pm

      You are right, Austin:

      http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_cons_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html

      Guadium et spes 5.

      Advances in biology, psychology, and the social sciences not only bring men hope of improved self-knowledge; in conjunction with technical methods, they are helping men exert direct influence on the life of social groups.

      At the same time, the human race is giving steadily-increasing thought to forecasting and regulating its own population growth. History itself speeds along on so rapid a course that an individual person can scarcely keep abreast of it. The destiny of the human community has become all of a piece, where once the various groups of men had a kind of private history of their own.

      Thus, the human race has passed from a rather static concept of reality to a more dynamic, evolutionary one. In consequence there has arisen a new series of problems, a series as numerous as can be, calling for efforts of analysis and synthesis.

      And then 8

      As for the family, discord results from population, economic and social pressures, or from difficulties which arise between succeeding generations, or from new social relationships between men and women.

      And then 47

      Finally, in certain parts of the world problems resulting from population growth are generating concern.

      And 51, which discusses that there can be legitimate reasons not to have more children for a time, if done in proper, moral fashion (it does not say how long or what those conditions are, but we see population concerns are legitimate concerns):

      This council realizes that certain modern conditions often keep couples from arranging their married lives harmoniously, and that they find themselves in circumstances where at least temporarily the size of their families should not be increased. As a result, the faithful exercise of love and the full intimacy of their lives is hard to maintain. But where the intimacy of married life is broken off, its faithfulness can sometimes be imperiled and its quality of fruitfulness ruined, for then the upbringing of the children and the courage to accept new ones are both endangered.

      To these problems there are those who presume to offer dishonorable solutions indeed; they do not recoil even from the taking of life. But the Church issues the reminder that a true contradiction cannot exist between the divine laws pertaining to the transmission of life and those pertaining to authentic conjugal love.

      For God, the Lord of life, has conferred on men the surpassing ministry of safeguarding life in a manner which is worthy of man. Therefore from the moment of its conception life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes. The sexual characteristics of man and the human faculty of reproduction wonderfully exceed the dispositions of lower forms of life. Hence the acts themselves which are proper to conjugal love and which are exercised in accord with genuine human dignity must be honored with great reverence. Hence when there is question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspects of any procedure does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives, but must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced. Relying on these principles, sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law.

      And 87

      International cooperation is needed today especially for those peoples who, besides facing so many other difficulties, likewise undergo pressures due to a rapid increase in population. There is an urgent need to explore, with the full and intense cooperation of all, and especially of the wealthier nations, ways whereby the human necessities of food and a suitable education can be furnished and shared with the entire human community. But some peoples could greatly improve upon the conditions of their life if they would change over from antiquated methods of farming to the new technical methods, applying them with needed prudence according to their own circumstances. Their life would likewise be improved by the establishment of a better social order and by a fairer system for the distribution of land ownership.

      Governments undoubtedly have rights and duties, within the limits of their proper competency, regarding the population problem in their respective countries, for instance, in the line of social and family life legislation, or regarding the migration of country-dwellers to the cities, or with respect to information concerning the condition and needs of the country. Since men today are giving thought to this problem and are so greatly disturbed over it, it is desirable in addition that Catholic specialists, especially in the universities, skillfully pursue and develop studies and projects on all these matters

      And in 87 also goes in saying that, if there are concerns, the solution has to be moral and not follow immoral means, which I have also said, and yet if done, spouses indeed can be shown ways to regulate number of children to deal with population concerns:

      But there are many today who maintain that the increase in world population, or at least the population increase in some countries, must be radically curbed by every means possible and by any kind of intervention on the part of public authority. In view of this contention, the council urges everyone to guard against solutions, whether publicly or privately supported, or at times even imposed, which are contrary to the moral law. For in keeping with man’s inalienable right to marry and generate children, a decision concerning the number of children they will have depends on the right judgment of the parents and it cannot in any way be left to the judgment of public authority. But since the judgment of the parents presupposes a rightly formed conscience, it is of the utmost importance that the way be open for everyone to develop a correct and genuinely human responsibility which respects the divine law and takes into consideration the circumstances of the situation and the time. But sometimes this requires an improvement in educational and social conditions, and, above all, formation in religion or at least a complete moral training. Men should discreetly be informed, furthermore, of scientific advances in exploring methods whereby spouses can be helped in regulating the number of their children and whose safeness has been well proven and whose harmony with the moral order has been ascertained.

      • September 3, 2010 4:25 pm

        I put things in bold because they relate the conversation and show exactly what I have been saying; the concern is real, the issue is finding the proper moral solutions.

  23. September 3, 2010 4:40 pm

    Michael

    Some of the leading voices we hear in the Immigration debate are John Tanton groups. They have a series of organziations. In fact Mark Krikorian over at National Review heads up one of these. The biggies are FAIR and CIS. To them illegal immigration is just a side issue. They want to put a practical stop to all immigration. THey also think the population of the USA needs to be reduced to 150 million. Tom Tancredo was a huge believer in it.

    See http://www.savethegop.com/?p=2474

    I am baffled and alarmed that even Catholic that support immigration reform, and even DIocese’s that have immigration efforts fail to see the problem

    Also see this very good piece that ran in Wall Street Journal a few years back. Let me quote a part

    “I stand by what the Wall Street Journal and their March 15, 2004 editorial by Jason Riley, a senior editorial page writer when he said:
    “So determined is conservatism’s nativist wing that it’s even made common cause with radical environmentalists and zero-population-growth fanatics on the leftist fringe. The Federation for American Immigration Reform and the Center for Immigration Studies may strike right-wing poses in the press, but both groups support big government, mock federalism, deride free markets and push a cultural agenda abhorrent to any self-respecting social conservative.

    FAIR’s founder and former president is John Tanton, an eye doctor who opened the first Planned Parenthood chapter in northern Michigan. By Dr. Tanton’s own reckoning, FAIR has received more than $1.5 million from the Pioneer Fund, a white-supremacist outfit devoted to racial purity through eugenics.Board members of FAIR actively promote the sterilization of Third World women for the purposes of reducing U.S. immigration prospects. And if anything disturbs the good doctor more than those Latin American hordes crossing the Rio Grande, it’s the likelihood that most of them are Catholic, or so he once told a Reuters reporter.

    CIS, an equally repugnant FAIR offshoot, is a big fan of China’s one-child policy and publishes books advocating looser limits on abortion and wider use of RU-486. CIS considers the Sierra Club, which cites “stabilizing world population” fourth on its 21st century to-do list, as too moderate.

    And like FAIR, CIS has called for a target U.S. population of 150 million, about half of what it is today.Unlike their counterparts on the restrictionist right, these organizations don’t distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. They want the border sealed as a means to a fanciful, neo-Malthusian end. Both sides, however, do share the same intellectual framework — an overriding pessimism and lack of understanding about markets, which is why both also tend to oppose free trade.”

  24. September 3, 2010 4:47 pm

    Jh:

    So the people who want the US population to go down (for whatever reason) also want the immigrants to stop coming b/c that makes our population go up, not to mention globally they are able to bear more children in the wealth of the US then in their home country. That makes sense.

  25. September 3, 2010 5:03 pm

    That is about it. These are folks that you often see on TV. In fact I saw one this organziations and spokeman on Fox News today discussing something in California

    Lou Dobbs is a HUGE BELIEVER in this by the way. CIS gave him an award. HEre is his speech

    http://www.cis.org/articles/Katz/katz2004.html

    As you see the Environemental aspect of this is crucial to Dobbs as well as CIS.

    This is why besides fighting immigration they fight such battles as not allowing Non American military to be able to get citizenship in exchange for service, that is why they fight even the issuing of more Visas for more Hight Tech workers with skills.

  26. September 3, 2010 5:24 pm

    I put things in bold because they relate the conversation and show exactly what I have been saying; the concern is real, the issue is finding the proper moral solutions.

    Actually, I don’t think so. You quote:

    Governments undoubtedly have rights and duties, within the limits of their proper competency, regarding the population problem in their respective countries, for instance, in the line of social and family life legislation, or regarding the migration of country-dwellers to the cities, or with respect to information concerning the condition and needs of the country.

    Finally, in certain parts of the world problems resulting from population growth are generating concern.

    All this establishes is that the Vatican allows governments that are dealing with population problems to spread NFP. That’s not what Joe’s attacking. The idea in the environmental movement is not that certain sections of the world is overpopulated, but that the world itself is overpopulated. The idea for the fanatics Joe critiques is that the world is already past its capacity and dramatic means must be undertaken to reduce the global population, regardless of your area’s capacity to bear a larger population.

    Also, since Benedict’s views are the ones that started this post, let’s see what his most recent thoughts on population are from Caritas in Veritate:

    44. The notion of rights and duties in development must also take account of the problems associated with population growth. This is a very important aspect of authentic development, since it concerns the inalienable values of life and the family[110]. To consider population increase as the primary cause of underdevelopment is mistaken, even from an economic point of view. Suffice it to consider, on the one hand, the significant reduction in infant mortality and the rise in average life expectancy found in economically developed countries, and on the other hand, the signs of crisis observable in societies that are registering an alarming decline in their birth rate. Due attention must obviously be given to responsible procreation, which among other things has a positive contribution to make to integral human development. The Church, in her concern for man’s authentic development, urges him to have full respect for human values in the exercise of his sexuality. It cannot be reduced merely to pleasure or entertainment, nor can sex education be reduced to technical instruction aimed solely at protecting the interested parties from possible disease or the “risk” of procreation. This would be to impoverish and disregard the deeper meaning of sexuality, a meaning which needs to be acknowledged and responsibly appropriated not only by individuals but also by the community. It is irresponsible to view sexuality merely as a source of pleasure, and likewise to regulate it through strategies of mandatory birth control. In either case materialistic ideas and policies are at work, and individuals are ultimately subjected to various forms of violence. Against such policies, there is a need to defend the primary competence of the family in the area of sexuality[111], as opposed to the State and its restrictive policies, and to ensure that parents are suitably prepared to undertake their responsibilities.

    Morally responsible openness to life represents a rich social and economic resource. Populous nations have been able to emerge from poverty thanks not least to the size of their population and the talents of their people. On the other hand, formerly prosperous nations are presently passing through a phase of uncertainty and in some cases decline, precisely because of their falling birth rates; this has become a crucial problem for highly affluent societies. The decline in births, falling at times beneath the so-called “replacement level”, also puts a strain on social welfare systems, increases their cost, eats into savings and hence the financial resources needed for investment, reduces the availability of qualified labourers, and narrows the “brain pool” upon which nations can draw for their needs. Furthermore, smaller and at times miniscule families run the risk of impoverishing social relations, and failing to ensure effective forms of solidarity. These situations are symptomatic of scant confidence in the future and moral weariness. It is thus becoming a social and even economic necessity once more to hold up to future generations the beauty of marriage and the family, and the fact that these institutions correspond to the deepest needs and dignity of the person. In view of this, States are called to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society[112], and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character.

    http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/encyclicals/documents/hf_ben-xvi_enc_20090629_caritas-in-veritate_en.html

    Benedict here is explicitly calling for larger families. While the Vatican is certainly open to the prospect that an area might suffer such that increased population growth might need to be delayed via NFP, it’s clear that Benedict is rejecting the assertions of the environmental movement who lay all the blame on overpopulation. In that, Joe’s position is similar to Benedict’s and certainly does no violence to his thought.

    • September 3, 2010 5:33 pm

      Michael

      The issue of overpopulation, as engaged by environmentalists, is not univocal, and many deal with overpopulation ala in the urban areas, or concerning those places which do not have the proportionate means for having an increase in population. This is also a concern of the Pope. I have not said all places are overpopulated, but the Vatican also notes one way to deal with it is — immigration (as can be seen by recent statements by the Vatican from the office dealing with population). The point is it is more complex, and the VII documents do indeed point to the concerns of population growth and point out they do indeed affect the world and are not to just be summarily dismissed. I will make this clear:

      Joe’s problem is the problem of over-simplification. He claims, on TAC, that he is just dealing with issues “normally neglected.” Does he think these issues are “neglected” by the normal IC crowd? Certainly not. And it is being used to reduce concern about environmentalism and to suggest the real concern about the environment is not the environment, but to reduce the world’s population — which is in error. But even then, if that is a concern, of itself, it is not a problem; the problem is of method and how to deal with the concern. Again, reducing all responses to illegitimate ones is a strawman. More importantly, ignoring the fullness of what the Church has said, to an audience which already questions environmental concerns, is problematic, because it encourages a reduced view of Catholic teaching. This is the methodology which creates heresy, and heretics often will say “but what I said is true, see, I am quoting X, Y and Z.” Pelagius even tried this with Augustine. But this is not how it works, because when the reduction counters major issues, if it tries to take a proposition and make it the whole truth, you lose the truth.

  27. Austin Ruse permalink
    September 3, 2010 6:10 pm

    Henry,

    Here is a question for you. You are teaching the openess to life segment at a marriage prep weekend. Would you tell them it is acceptable to avoid pregnancy for ever because of concerns about overpopulation? Over concerns about the environment?

    • September 3, 2010 6:27 pm

      Austin

      There must be more than mere concerns about overpopulation, but legitimate reasons as to see those concerns as being valid. And we must remember the methods they go about doing so must be morally sound ones. Indeed, the Church has said the state can encourage this, providing information to do so, as long as not forced and the suggestions are, as I have said, valid. Moreover, we must remember that there are examples of married saints who remained virgins; while they probably did not have population concerns then, I do think it could be added to the other reasons why they engaged such asceticism in marriage.

      • September 3, 2010 6:45 pm

        1) It seems to me that Benedict is speaking fairly contextually and has in mind population decreases in some European countries. One can recognize that this phenomenon is a problem within specific contexts but also see the bigger picture that the world as a whole is probably overpopulated. The two facts can both be true.

        2) One does not need to buy into the anti-child ideology that is becoming more and more common in order to believe that there is a lot of truth in the concern about world overpopulation. Commitment to having a small family because of environmental reasons is not anti-Catholic. It can be very Catholic. “Moral responsibility” in procreation does not mean have-as-many-kids-as-your-body-can-take, despite the beliefs of many Roman Catholics.

        3) Concerns about overpopulation understandably sound absurd to middle and upper class North American Catholic bloggers for whom the consequences of world overpopulation are tucked nicely out of sight.

        4) Solutions for overpopulation need not mean radical efforts to “cut down the population” (which sounds awfully bloody), nor should anyone assume that abortion and artificial birth control are necessarily part of the package when speaking about solutions.

  28. Austin Ruse permalink
    September 3, 2010 6:31 pm

    Henry,

    I think you are right on your earlier notion, that a couple may use nfp for population concerns and that they may use it for their whole lives for that reason. Is that possible?

    Pius XII said the reasons are medical, eugenic, economic and social implication.”

    • September 3, 2010 6:50 pm

      Austin

      Since there are married saints who abstained from having sex, yes it is possible.

  29. Austin Ruse permalink
    September 3, 2010 6:32 pm

    Here is a good one for you. May a Chinese couple us NFP to avoid pregnancy their whole lives because of the one-child policy?

  30. Austin Ruse permalink
    September 3, 2010 6:55 pm

    Henry,

    That’s a different thing. Of course, a couple may choose to live as brother and sister. That is different than a couple who has sex but avoids the fertile period for reasons of society, that is, overpopulation. I think you may be right.

    To the Chinese question, I do believe they may avoid pregnancy their whole lives after their first child because of the draconian punishment for having s second (forced abortion, house bulldozed, or financial punishment of a year’s salary or more)….

  31. Joe Hargrave permalink
    September 3, 2010 7:59 pm

    “Joe’s problem is the problem of over-simplification.”

    Nonsense. The problem, as usual, is that you can’t simply appreciate a piece for what it is. Writing columns forces one to be simplistic – but I was not over-simplistic. That’s you subjective judgment, and it is wrong.

    “He claims, on TAC, that he is just dealing with issues “normally neglected.” Does he think these issues are “neglected” by the normal IC crowd? Certainly not.”

    And here is your prejudice against the “normal IC crowd.” I haven’t seen any articles at IC about this topic. And there are plenty of people who read Catholic websites who don’t know much about the anti-life arguments advanced by certain environmentalist organizations and individuals.

    “And it is being used to reduce concern about environmentalism”

    No it isn’t. That’s your hysterical conclusion.

    “and to suggest the real concern about the environment is not the environment”

    That’s not true. I fully acknowledge that the people calling for population control believe that it is in the interests of the environment!

    “but to reduce the world’s population — which is in error”

    Fallacy, Henry. These are not mutual exclusives. They want to reduce the world’s population to “save the environment.” I don’t attribute to them any other sinister motives. Frankly, I think that’s sinister enough.

    • September 4, 2010 2:30 am

      Joe

      I know about writing — and more importantly, I know about writing for IC. To say you are not trying to reduce concern about environmentalism is not my “hysterical conclusion.” YOUR OWN WORDS says the point is to reveal what is “behind” the concern for “climate change” and that concern is “inhuman.” Seriously, Joe, you revealed your true desire with one sentence. And reading the article, it is just reinforcing the mentality of “environmentalism is wrong.”

      You are suggesting the real concern is dislike for humanity, hence, inhuman. Not a concern for the environment because well, people might actually be pro-human, which is exactly why the Church is concerned about it and climate change.

  32. GodsGadfly permalink
    September 3, 2010 11:02 pm

    The fundamental problem with “Environmentalism,” as opposed to conservation, is that Environmentalism is inherently pagan, Marxist, Malthusian and Darwinist.

    Environmentalism does not acknowledge the role of man as superior to all of creation. It does not acknowledge the Great Chain of Being. It sees human beings as equal to “other animals” and therefore having no rights.

    The Popes are very clear in calling for proper stewardship of the earth *THAT DOES NOT PUT NATURE ABOVE HUMANITY.”

    • September 4, 2010 2:09 am

      GodsGadfly,

      You are making things up as you go (just like Joe). And like him, you make absurd claims such as:

      “Overpopulation is heresy” “Environmentalism is pagan” “You don’t read things pre-Vatican II.”

      Seriously, GG, your reading is quite limited; your understanding is the one which is very modern.

  33. GodsGadfly permalink
    September 3, 2010 11:05 pm

    And no Catholic should ever talk about “overpopulation.” That is the very heresy that caused Cardinal Ottoviani to stand up in protest at Vatican II.

    There can never be overpopulation.tern
    Starvation is not the same thing as overpopulation, and much of the starvation in the world is engineered by the US government to help encourage the “population control” agenda. In any case, the problem in third world countries is not overpopulation but lack of resources.

    Indeed, as faithful Catholics in those countries argue, how can overpopulation be a problem in agricultural and industrial economies that need workers in order to produce goods?

    You people really need to read something that was written before Vatican II. Indeed, it might help if you actually read Vatican II instead of Kung and Curran and Rahner.

  34. September 3, 2010 11:06 pm

    Michael Iafrate:

    My reading of Benedict here is not that the world is overpopulated-rather, that the world can sustain the current population if countries, specifically the West, alter their lifestyles in order to make resources more accessible. I think Benedict sees overpopulation not as a problem in and of itself-but a symptom of a global community that is selfish and luxurious. Benedict suggests then that large families promote a unique environment-by their nature, they lend themselves towards a less selfish and materialistic life (if for nothing else than finances are stretched more thinly than for most smaller families). Ironically, large families combat overpopulation by striking at the heart of the problem by promoting more manageable lifestyles.

    That’s not a refutation of what you said (though I’m wary of the idea of a North American middle class couple abstaining from children for environmental reasons) but I think it sheds more light on the issue.

    • September 4, 2010 12:00 am

      My reading of Benedict here is not that the world is overpopulated-rather, that the world can sustain the current population if countries, specifically the West, alter their lifestyles in order to make resources more accessible.

      He may be saying both. I think he recognizes population growth as having problematic aspects. He definitely is concerned about the distribution of resources and mentions this often, although on my reading he is calling for new economic structures, not simply a change in lifestyle in individual families. He calls for structural change.

      I think Benedict sees overpopulation not as a problem in and of itself-but a symptom of a global community that is selfish and luxurious.

      …of parts of a global community that is selfish and luxurious. A minority, in fact. The majority of the world does not live that way.

      Benedict suggests then that large families promote a unique environment-by their nature, they lend themselves towards a less selfish and materialistic life (if for nothing else than finances are stretched more thinly than for most smaller families). Ironically, large families combat overpopulation by striking at the heart of the problem by promoting more manageable lifestyles.

      This idea seems a tad naive to me.

  35. September 4, 2010 1:04 pm

    GG should check out the environmentalism of the Eastern churches.

Comments are closed.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 883 other followers

%d bloggers like this: