ROME, March 9, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – “We know some part but not all of the doctrine of the Church” about fertility and procreation, the Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences said at the Vatican conference on Biological Extinction.
Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo made these remarks when he asked population controller and birth control advocate John Bongaarts a question. The two were participating in a discussion session after Bongaarts' presentation.
Sorondo said, in English:
“Many times, we don’t know exactly what is the doctrine of the Church – we know some part but not all the doctrine of the Church about the question of the fecundity. I want to ask first when, in your estimations, when you say the ladies have seven children – but with the same man, or with other men? This is very important question. For this reason, really, the idea of the Church to have to the family is a real form [to put order in this] also in fecundity first. Secondly, the idea [of] the Church that we need education because is not only the ends of the marriage is not only to have children but to educate the childrens and also the person to have children, the woman and the man. And the many, many priests say to me that the great solution for the question of procreation is the education of the womans. Because when you have education, we don’t have childrens. We don’t have seven children. Maybe we have one children, two children. No more. And this is also an obligation for the Church and after and in then I want to say that also in the catechismos of the Church say, ‘the state has a responsibility for its citizens' well-being. In this capacity it is legitimate for the state to intervene to orient the demography of the population.’ This is also an idea of the Catholic Church. And the people no [inaudible] this. Also you say only for the family. No, it’s not only for the family. Also the family need to understand what are the situation of the country.”
“You point out completely accurately that education is a very important factor in determining fertility,” Bongaarts responded. “So if you look around the world, educated societies have low fertility. If you look within societies, the more educated women have fewer children than the better educated. This is one reason for investing in education. The problem is that an educated woman needs family planning to implement her desires.”
“Women are educated [and] they want fewer children because they want to participate in the labor force, whatever, but without having access to birth control, she will have more children than she wants,” Bongaarts continued. “And that’s why it is not just education alone, it is a combination of education and birth control that brings fertility down.”
“Very high levels of education, very high levels of female empowerment, and full access to healthcare including family planning” are what make fertility rates low, Bongaarts told the bishop.
In the video of the exchange, Sorondo makes no mention of the Catholic Church's teaching that artificial contraception is “intrinsically evil.”
Sorondo “has spent his adult life – most of his adult life – in a country, Argentina, where the politicians for the last century have repeatedly, periodically destroyed the economy,” Steve Mosher, the president of the Population Research Institute, told LifeSiteNews. They've done this “by periodically inflating the currency and destroying the middle class and the middle class savings and the middle class assets. So he has no idea how an economy should be run. He has no idea that a thriving, free market economy needs people.”
Mosher called people “the ultimate resource – the one resource you cannot do without.”
“For anybody who is a bishop in the Catholic Church – God help us all – who doesn’t understand [that] the first commandment given [to] our first parents to be fruitful and multiply has never been rescinded and instead argues for people not to be generous in having children I think fails to understand why God created the Earth and human beings in the first place,” said Mosher. “Silence implies assent … for him to hear contraceptives praised and promoted and not immediately contradict that position by stating what the position of the Church is makes him complicit in the misinformation that follows.”
“I don’t know whether it was an act of politeness where he simply didn’t wanna dispute the point with his guests … maybe he should’ve invited different guests [who don’t] contradict Church teaching,” said Mosher. “Or maybe it was cowardice, that he wasn’t prepared to speak what the Church’s teaching was in an audience which he had you know, collected together, many of whom were not very sympathetic to the Church’s position. Whatever the motive, I think it sends exactly the wrong message.”
Sorondo's suggestion that couples consider the “situation of the country” before having children is in line with instructions promulgated by the DOCAT, a direction on the “Social Teaching of the Catholic Church.” The DOCAT was published by the Austrian Bishops' Conference and approved by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization with the concurrence of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 2016. It features a forward by Pope Francis.
The DOCAT tells Catholics:
“Married couples should accept the children that are given to them by God. That does not mean, however, that every married couple should thoughtlessly have (many) children. Instead – in conformity with the Church's authoritative teaching – the married couple should make their decision for motherhood and fatherhood responsibly, taking into account their health and their economic, spiritual, and social situation. In this they must learn to understand the language of their bodies, making use of methods of natural family planning. Decisions about the interval between births and the number of children are up to the married couple alone, to be made prayerfully and with rightly formed consciences. This is their inalienable right, which they exercise in the sight of God and taking into consideration their duties toward themselves, any children who may already be born, their family, and society.” (DOCAT #129)
The DOCAT continues:
“Family policy certainly may encourage couples to be thoughtful about the number of children they have, in light of the needs of society and the common good.” (DOCAT #130)
Of marriage and childbearing, a 1954 edition of the Baltimore Catechism, My Catholic Faith, says:
“The primary purpose of marriage is the begetting and rearing of children in the fear and love of God, in order that they may join him in heaven someday … God severely punishes even in this life those who practice 'birth control.' It results in sterility, vice, weakness of the will, etc., besides physical diseases.” (Section 164)