Fr. Peter West

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Recognizing population control in Ethiopia

Fr. Peter West
By Fr. Peter West
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February 22, 2013, (HLI World Watch) - The African nation of Ethiopia has a Christian history which dates back to the New Testament, even before Saul’s conversion. In the Acts of the Apostles, we learn that Philip baptized an Ethiopian eunuch who was a member of the court of Queen Candace. Happily, Ethiopia has not abandoned its ancient roots in the faith: about 63% of Ethiopians are Christians, the majority of whom belong to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

Ethiopia has a population of over 84 million, which makes the Eastern African nation the 14th largest country in the world. By way of contrast, the State of California has a population of just over 38 million people. But Ethiopia has plenty of room: they have a population density of 79 people per square kilometer, compared to 260 people per square kilometer in the much richer United Kingdom. This fact is often overlooked by those who look at Africa and see only too many people, and view babies as obstacles to “progress.”

With the 13th highest fertility rate in the world, Ethiopians have an average of 5.39 children per woman, making the nation a prime target of Western population controllers.

On the Need to Defend Pro-Life Culture

When I traveled to Ethiopia this past December I spoke with bishops, students and pro-life leaders who, while dedicated to defending life, were surprised just how far reaching and organized the population control agenda had become in Africa. For many it was a wakeup call that a renewed and refocused pro-life movement is needed in Ethiopia.

As in dozens of other countries in Africa and around the world, Human Life International (HLI) uses its limited resources to support the local pro-life mission in Ethiopia. In many African countries, HLI is the only organization providing valuable pro-life training and resources. Father Aloysius Mugisha, AJ (a priest of the order of Apostles of Jesus), is HLI’s country director in Ethiopia, and was my generous host. He is a native Ugandan, but has come to know and love Ethiopia and her people. He speaks the native Amharic language fluently, and helped to make sure people understood the very serious situation I described in my presentations and conversations.

During my first full day in Ethiopia, I offered Mass for 30 leaders of Ethiopia for Life, a dynamic group of students from various universities in the capital of Addis Ababa. In my homily, I reflected on the life of St. Leo the Great, who saved Rome from a barbarian invasion in 452 A.D.

As in St. Leo’s day, there is a vicious type of barbarism that we find today – attacks on the most vulnerable human life. The new barbarians, however, are very sophisticated, and claim not to be bound by the moral restrictions of the past. Since population control fell out of favor decades ago, they now wage the same war against the people of developing nations with the falsely inspiring language of “reproductive justice,” “maternal health,” and “safe motherhood.” Yet their methods are exactly the same: abortion, contraception, euthanasia, basically any means of eliminating the “unwanted.”

 Germanso thought of themselves as very sophisticated. Before World War II, their society was the most literate in the world. But even before the Nazis came to power, these “sophisticated” barbarians were euthanizing mental patients and others with various imperfections. Their aim was to create a master race, and some of the most eminent scientists were involved.

This was also the aim of Margaret Sanger, the founder of the organization now known as Planned Parenthood, to create “a race of thoroughbreds.” Marie Stopes, a friend and colleague of Sanger, also was a racist and eugenicist. She founded the Society for Constructive Birth and Racial Progress, which eventually became the eponymous organization that is most active in Africa today.

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I asked the students to pray to Pope St. Leo the Great and ask him to help us overcome this new barbarism, that we might create a culture in which life is respected at every stage, and to preserve the faith. Right action follows from right belief. The false philosophies of the 19th century led to the atrocities of the 20th, as well as to the lack of respect for human life that we see today.

Spreading the Word

After Mass, I gave a presentation to the students on the population control agenda. Bishop Lisane-Christos Matheos Semahun, Auxiliary Bishop of Addis Ababa, also attended. They were alarmed to hear that Ethiopia was one of the 13 countries targeted by the United States for population control since the 1970s. On December 10, 1974, the United States National Security Council promulgated a top secret document entitled National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM-200), also called The Kissinger Report. It was subtitled “Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.” Declassified in 1989, the document laid out a detailed strategy by which the United States would aggressively promote population control in developing nations in order to regulate (or have better access to) the natural resources of these countries.

The document stated “The U.S. economy will require large and increasing amounts of minerals from abroad, especially from less developed countries. That fact gives the U.S. enhanced interest in the political, economic, and social stability of the supplying countries.” Ethiopia was one of 13 nations named that would be primary targets of U.S.-funded population control efforts. Other countries named were India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nigeria, Mexico, Indonesia, Brazil, the Philippines, Thailand, Egypt, Turkey, Ethiopia and Colombia.

According to NSSM-200, elements of the implementation of population control programs could include: a) the legalization of abortion; b) financial incentives for countries to increase their abortion, sterilization and contraception-use rates; c) indoctrination of children; and d) mandatory population control, and coercion of other forms, such as withholding disaster and food aid unless an LDC implements population control programs.

You might ask why a policy adopted during the Nixon administration is relevant today, especially since it is unlikely that most of today’s bureaucrats and population control advocates even know of its existence. It is relevant because the assumptions and recommendations of this troubling document are now those of the international development industry, which is funded by governments of wealthy nations and Western multi-billion dollar foundations. A policy that was classified due to the very reasonable assumption by its authors that there would be an uproar if it was know that the most powerful government in the world saw the people of developing nations as obstacles to its own flourishing, is now the basic framework of the international development industry, and its strategies and tactics are now considered “best practices,” just as the language used in their implementation is now “pro-woman” rather than “population control.”

Our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia and other developing nations deserve to know that those bearing gifts from wealthy nations have an agenda. There are often strings attached to the huge financial grants dangled in front of the leaders of these nations, and these strings will ultimately tie down, and not empower, Africans.

A Strong Clergy can Make a Difference

Bishop Semahun was so alarmed at the array of forces seeking to limit the population of Ethiopia he pledged to focus the rest of his Episcopal ministry on the defense of human life and the family. Thankfully, the Archbishop of Addis Ababa, Berhaneyesus Demerew Souraphiel, C.M., has also been very supportive of the pro-life ministry in Ethiopia. The support of the Catholic Church in Africa is essential in responding to the threats of population control and the anti-life agenda.

While pro-life leaders, including many Catholic clergy, are well aware of the great evils posed by the Culture of Death, it’s hardly possible for any one person or one group to confront and defeat them all. The pro-life movement in Africa is growing, but supporters of their efforts don’t have the billions of dollars spent every year to suppress the Gospel of Life and undermine Africa’s traditionally life-loving culture.

As we go through our daily activities, we should be mindful and keep in prayer the students of Ethiopia for Life, as well as Father Aloysius, Ethiopia’s bishops, and all those working diligently to strengthen a Culture of Life in nations that still value children. May they have the courage of St. Leo to stand against the forces of evil in our day.

Father Peter West is the vice president for missions at Human Life International.

Reprinted with permission from HLI World Watch.


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Growing ‘Women Against Feminism’ movement draws fury

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By Hilary White
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Critics of feminism have long said that it is entering the final stages of its long career, with more of its assertions about the nature of human sexual and social relations being contradicted by the evidence and fewer young people following its dictates every decade. But in the last few weeks, it seems that feminism’s last gasp is being used to direct insults at young women who are lining up to publicly reject and ridicule it.

The Tumblr site Women Against Feminism has started a social networking trend in which thousands of young women photograph themselves holding signs bluntly denouncing feminism, giving a sharp indication that the feminist brand has become poison to young, hip, and internet-savvy women.

Mainstream and journalistic feminists have lashed out at the site and its followers, entering into an online spat over the increasingly popular photos. The signs say, “I am not a victim,” and “This is what an anti-feminist looks like.”

They continue: “I am an adult who is capable of taking responsibility for myself and my actions. I define myself and derive my value by my own standards. I don’t need to be ‘empowered’. I am not a target for violence and there is no war against me. I respect me and I refuse to demonize them and blame them for my problems.”

The messages held by the women pinpoint with pithy and acerbic precision exactly the reasons given by many critics that the movement has lost favour with young people. They call it a creed of double standards that promotes victimhood and endorses bullying of anyone who critiques it.

The site’s explanatory page, which was taken down for unknown reasons in the last two days, said, “Feminists are the only people who lose their minds with rage when you tell them that women already have the same exact rights as men. That’s not good enough. They want more. They desperately want to be victims. They want a privileged social position.”

The author goes on to accuse feminism in general of systematic censorship, discrimination, elitism and “policing other women” who do not toe the line – as well as baseline misandry. The anonymous creator denounced feminism’s adoption of “abortion as ‘empowerment’”:

This opinion is unpopular, but I don’t agree that I need to have my baby scraped out of my uterus in order to feel empowered. But the abortion industry (i.e. Planned Parenthood) makes a ton of money off this perversion of empowerment. ‘Abortion as empowerment’ teaches women to see their wombs as nothing but garbage bins full of disposable waste.

One of the contributors wrote, “I don’t need feminism because my self-worth is not directly tied to my victim complex. As a woman in the western world I am not oppressed, and neither are you,” says one. Another: “I don’t need feminism because I don’t need to bully someone to share my opinions with others.”

Some come right out and say that feminism promotes exactly the evils it purports to fight against: “I don’t need feminism because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.”

Although the site and its contentious photos have been running around the internet for many months, arguments among journalism’s feminists started breaking out this week after a mocking Buzzfeed feature helped the site gain momentum on social media outlets.

Some feminist journalists simply flung insults. Lillian Kalish sniffed on Ryot, “These Women Who Think They Don’t Need Feminism Don’t Know What Feminism Is.” “Did these posters ever think to look up the actual definition of feminism?”

Nuala McKeever, in the Belfast Telegraph, called the women posting the photos “silly, ignorant, vacuous wee girls with absolutely no thoughts beyond their own self-absorbed inanities.”

Time Magazine’s Sarah Miller said, “I Really, Truly, Fully Hate ‘Women Against Feminism’—But…” Miller wrote, “[T]he tendency to see sexism everywhere is proof that feminism is healthy and vigilant, and that is not necessarily a bad thing, because misogyny is insidious and rampant… We need feminism.”

But Miller added, “Still, the pain that we experience as women—even physical—does not give us the right to tell people there’s one way to think or feel, or to assume that we have some god-like understanding of everyone’s motivations.”

Cathy Young, however, responded in Time, saying, “Stop Fem-Splaining: What ‘Women Against Feminism’ Gets Right.” She writes, “The charge that feminism stereotypes men as predators while reducing women to helpless victims certainly doesn’t apply to all feminists—but it’s a reasonably fair description of a large, influential, highly visible segment of modern feminism.”

The site, Young says, “raises valid questions about the state of Western feminism in the 21st Century — questions that must be addressed if we are to continue making progress toward real gender equality.”

Sarah Boesveld wrote in the National Post on Friday that the site shows that feminism has become “complicated” and “sometimes alienating.” She quotes an email sent to the paper by 22 year-old Australian Lisa Sandford, who “believes in equality for the sexes” but firmly rejects feminism as “rude and nasty” and intends to be a stay-at-home mother. 

Sandford wrote, “If feminism really accepted equality, they would not tell me my views are wrong, they would accept it and let me be.”

Browse the 'Women Against Feminism' archives here (warning: occasional strong language).


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Welcome Baby Filipino 100 Million!

Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse
By Steven W. Mosher and Anne Roback Morse

Population Research Institute welcomes the birth of little Chonalyn Sentino. Baby Chonalyn was born this past Sunday to parents Clemente and Dailin, and was feted in the Philippines as “Baby 100 Million.” PRI welcomes Baby Chonalyn as well, saying that she will be a blessing to her family, her community, and her nation.

The Philippines is one of the largest Catholic countries in the world, and its people value children. For this reason, it has been a target of the population controllers for decades. It was one of the countries singled out by Henry Kissinger’s National Security Council in 1974 for special “attention” and, more recently, has been bullied by the Obama administration into passing its first population control law. 

The bill, which was touted as being all about promoting “reproductive health,” was actually intended to drive down the birth rate. For example, section 15 requires that all couples receive a “Certificate of Compliance” from the local Family Planning Office before becoming eligible for a marriage license.

Some in the Philippines are decrying Chonalyn’s birth, repeating USAID’s talking points about the “dangers” of overpopulation. They welcome Chonalyn as an individual little girl, while simultaneously calling for future little girls and boys to be removed from existence.

The Philippine Star wrote that the birth symbolized a “large population that will put a strain on the country's limited resources.” Another paper cited the executive director of the official Commission on Population who bluntly said “We'd like to push the fertility rate down to two children per (woman's) lifetime.” And the Global Post cited “concerned advocates” who thought the current population was not a “complement with the country's economic growth.”

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But many other Filipinos aren’t buying into the anti-people hysteria. Francisco Antonio, a Filipino Chemical Engineering graduate student at Yale, adamantly rebutted the notion that there are too many Filipinos, saying: “I celebrate life because population control is defeatism disguised as pragmatism. And because human creativity holds more potential for protecting this planet and its inhabitants than any other resource I know of.”

A Filipina currently living in California told PRI that she welcomed the transition of her country to 100 million persons: “Filipinos are not a burden to the world population, because we not only care for our own but also for others in the world. One of the greatest and most sought after exports of the Philippines is our skilled, motivated, and exemplary workforce. And these workers tirelessly cultivate their family and community abroad and in the Philippines. We are a very social and civic minded people. We care and share because it is part of our culture and we do it with a smile.”

 Ed, a Filipino accountant, also celebrated the birth of Baby Chonalyn: “The typical Filipino does not associate a baby with ‘cost’ or ‘expense’ but rather as a ‘blessing’ and a ‘gift.’ This is because Filipinos recognize that true happiness does not come from the accumulation of material wealth or prestige, but rather, from true, genuine, and strong relationships with other people. [Filipinos] value life, not because the Church says or the Pope says so, but because they recognize it to be true. And the truth about the value of life, will continue to shine, long after the debates are over.”

It goes without saying that we at the Population Research Institute also welcome Chonalyn’s birth. We need more Filipinos, not fewer. 

Reprinted with permission from Pop.org.


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Two very different ways to respond to Pope Francis’ unrecorded interviews

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By John-Henry Westen

In the last few weeks another series of interviews with Pope Francis surfaced and have again left many Catholics scratching their heads.  Headlines all over the world had the Pope saying that two percent of priests are pedophiles, but is that what he said?  Even though the Vatican spokesman did issue a clarification, that question and others remain unanswered.

Critical reactions to these interviews have been interesting not even so much for their contents as from whom they arise.  These are the observations of some of the most faithful Catholic Church watchers today.  The folks pointing out these concerns are not, as many would assume, ‘“far right-wing-holier-than-the-Pope” types, but mainstream Catholics known for their loyalty to Pope Francis.

Phillip Lawler is the founder of Catholic World News, the first Catholic news service operating on the Internet. In part of his criticism of the most recent interview, he states: “Why was Pope Francis speaking with Scalfari without having first established clear ground rules for the conversation—rules that would certainly include recording and verification of any quotes?”

(To comprehend the situation accurately it is necessary to have an understanding of the man whom the Pope has allowed to interview him.  Eugenio Scalfari is relatively unknown in the West even after the fanfare of his papal interviews. LifeSiteNews has produced this piece to assist that understanding.)

Lawler recalls: “Back in October the Vatican had been embarrassed by an ‘interview’ in which [Scalfari’s] reconstructed quotes caused an uproar, and the Vatican press office was forced to issue an awkward ‘clarification’ which only added to the confusion.”

In addition to that clarification of the October Scalfari interview, the confusion and uproar got so bad that the Vatican removed the interview from their website, where they had it posted in the section containing the Pope’s speeches. Interestingly, that interview resurfaced two weeks ago on the Vatican website only to be removed again after a new round of criticism.

A blogger at the EWTN-owned National Catholic Register offered an observation similar to Lawler’s but with a little more bite. Pat Archbold writes, “The internet is once again abuzz with the second-hand hearsay of an unrecorded Papal interview.” Archbold advises his readers with characteristic sarcasm, “So pay no attention to those crazy and outlandish anti-Catholic headlines tearing up your RSS feed.  Just ignore them and hope they will soon go away, just like unrecorded Papal interviews.”

A second unrecorded conversation with the Pope makes news

Another write-up of an encounter with Pope Francis also caused a stir.  Brian Stiller, an Evangelical leader from Toronto was part of a delegation of Evangelical Christians who met with Pope Francis earlier this month. In his July 9 account, Stiller puts in quotes this statement he attributes to the Pope: “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community.  There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s not spend our time on those. Rather, let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”

That led noted priest-blogger Father Dwight Longenecker to first caution that the quotes are “Brian Stiller’s memory of the conversation.” 

Then with the caveat of not actually knowing the whole conversation, Fr. Longenecker says “it would not be unusual for a Catholic priest of Pope Francis’ generation to feel that way.”  He explains that he has “heard from numerous convert clergy over the years who said when they went to their local Catholic priest and expressed the wish to become Catholic the priest told them it wasn’t necessary and that they could do much more good to Christ’s kingdom and the Catholic church by staying where they were and evangelizing within their own denomination.”

“Now this strikes me as rather troublesome on several levels,” says Longenecker. He notes he had himself once used that line with a Protestant friend, to which his friend replied, “You don’t want to convert me? Why not? I don’t have much respect for your religion if you think so little of it that you don’t want me to share it!”

“He basically called me out on what was a little lie on my part. I wanted to be nice to him [so] I said I didn’t want to convert him. He said our discussion would be much better if I admitted that I did want him to become Catholic. He was right. I did. I still do.”

Inside the Vatican

Vatican journalist Edward Pentin has reported that unnamed “Vatican officials are uneasy and perplexed” about the interview. Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002 and has since covered the pope for a number of publications, including Newsweek and The Sunday Times.

“The officials’ discomfort also extends to the Pope’s spontaneous telephone calls to strangers, a couple of which implied he deviated from Church teaching but, being private and unrecorded conversations, are difficult to verify,” he wrote for Newsmax.

From the outset of the Francis pontificate, there were these unrecorded and yet published interviews – the first was from a meeting with Latin American religious leaders in June 2013.  That was the one that had Pope Francis speaking of the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Vatican and also about being concerned about Catholics who would count rosaries to offer prayer bouquets.

At the time LifeSiteNews published nothing on that first unrecorded interview even though almost all other news services did.  Shortly thereafter I was at the Vatican inquiring about that unrecorded but reported-on encounter and was assured by various Vatican insiders that the communication was not accidental but intended – to me at the time a rather startling revelation.

But that same assessment came later from another Vatican quarter, a man who speaks German as does the pope and also shares the pope’s religious order.  “Francis knows exactly how power is spelled,” said Bernd Hagenkord, a Jesuit who is in charge of German programming for Vatican Radio in a May interview with The Atlantic. “He’s a communicator in the league with Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama. They say he’s being unclear, but we know exactly what he means.”

Two different ways to respond

One of the most disturbing outcomes of these ‘interviews’ is that the words and interpretations of what is being said by the Pope, while they may be clear for the German Jesuit, are remarkably unclear for the vast majority of Catholics.  Catholics who know well their faith, its moral teachings, and the reason for them are few and far between. They are able to discern that the Pope cannot mean to undermine Church teaching; that those teachings are unchangeable.

But most people are taken in by the media’s false interpretation that ‘who am I to judge’ involves a new acceptance of homosexuality; the false possibility for legitimately-married Catholics to divorce and remarry outside the Church and still receive Communion; the idea that the Church should quiet down on her teachings on abortion, contraception, and same-sex “marriage.”  All of those false conclusions were drawn from previous Francis interviews.

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There are two ways forward for faithful Catholics in such a situation.  One way – a way that is most tempting - was recently recognized as a growing tendency by blogger Father Ray Blake. “Most Catholics but especially clergy want to be loyal to the Pope in order to maintain the unity of the Church,” he said.  “Today that loyalty is perhaps best expressed through silence.”

In leading up to that observation, Blake noted that in the previous pontificate “there was a solidity and certainty in Benedict's teaching which made discussion possible and stimulated intellectual honesty, one knew where the Church and the Pope stood.”  He added, “Today we are in less certain times, the intellectual life of the Church is thwart with uncertainty.”

However, Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke suggested a different approach recently. According to Burke, who serves as head of the Vatican’s highest court, the Apostolic Signatura, the pope has made a strategic decision to focus on making the Church appealing, and thus bishops and priests “are even more compelled to underline these teachings (on life and family) and make them clear for the faithful.”

He told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo, “The Holy Father has said on different occasions that he expects that bishops and priests are doing this teaching while he’s trying to draw people closer and not have them use [these doctrines] as their immediate excuse for not coming to the faith.”

Cardinal Burke’s strategy confronts the culture head-on even on the most difficult issues.  He sees that the often-used but failed tactic of avoiding difficult situations, of obfuscating or compromising on moral issues as worse than useless.

When truth is pushed aside for political correctness, to fulfill ideals of civility or to achieve false unity and false peace, the world is harmed by the lack of truth the Church is called to bring to it.

When truth is boldly proclaimed and held to, despite persecution, even the enemies of truth are forced to see that the opponents of their secular or liberal ideologies truly believe their teachings and are willing to suffer for them. This eventually generates a degree of respect from some of the critics and an openness to re-consider their own flawed positions.


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