By Patrick B. Craine

NEW YORK, New York, October 14, 2009 ( – Vatican U.N. representative Archbishop Celestino Migliore submitted a letter yesterday to the President of the 64th General Assembly, calling on the U.N. to drop its population control agenda and recognize the right to life of the unborn child.

The letter was sent in conjunction with the U.N.'s commemoration of the fifteenth anniversary of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) in Cairo.

When the member states met in Cairo in 1994, the Archbishop says, “many of them were under the impression that a population explosion was going to occur and hamper the ability to achieve adequate global economic development.”

“Now fifteen years later, we see that this perception was unfounded.” Instead, many developed countries now face demographic decline, even to the point where some countries are advocating higher birth rates for the sake of the economy.

Further, says the archbishop, “in many parts of the developing world, development has been occurring at previously unachieved rates and the greatest threat to development results not from a population explosion but from irresponsible world and local economic management.”

“For nearly a century, attempts have been made to link global population with the food, energy, natural resources and environmental crises,” he goes on.  “Yet, on the contrary, it has been consistently demonstrated by human ingenuity and the ability of people to work together that human persons are the world's greatest resource.”

The archbishop also condemned the interpretations of the ICPD goals regarding maternal health that result in the promotion of abortion and birth control.  “Too often in addressing the role of the ICPD on maternal health, attempts are made to promote a notion of sexual and reproductive health which is detrimental to unborn human life and the integral needs of women and men within society,” he says. 

“Efforts to address maternal mortality, obstetric fistula, child mortality, prenatal and antenatal care, sexually transmitted diseases and other health matters,” he continues, “are hampered by sanitary policies which fail to take into account the right to life of the unborn child and promote birth control as a development policy and disguised health service.”

Referring to a stipulation made at the Cairo conference that stated, “no UN agency can be allowed to promote abortion,” the archbishop observes that “suggesting that reproductive health includes a right to abortion explicitly violates the language of the ICPD, defies moral and legal standards within local communities and divides efforts to address the real needs of mothers and children.”

In 2006, Archbishop Migliore, in an address before the 39th session of the Commission on Population and Development, condemned the “dire predictions” regarding population that “led to radical population policies.” For development “to be both sustainable and sane,” he said, “such flawed policies will have to be replaced by truly people-centred ones.”

On Monday, the head of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation, Dr. Jacques Diouf, criticized the highly-influential overpopulation theory of Thomas Malthus before the Synod of African Bishops in Rome.  Malthus predicted that a growing population would inevitably result in food shortages, but according to Dr. Diouf, he “had no consideration for science and technology.”

(Read the complete letter from Archbishop Migliore here.)

See related coverage:

UN Food Chief Disputes Malthusian Overpopulation Theory at African Synod

Vatican to UN: Be “Sane” and Get out of the Population Control Business


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