42. Furthermore, “the decline in population, due to a mentality against having children and promoted by the world politics of reproductive health, creates not only a situation in which the relationship between generations is no longer ensured but also the danger that, over time, this decline will lead to economic impoverishment and a loss of hope in the future. The development of bio-technology has also had a major impact on the birth rate”.(Relatio Synodi 2014, 10)
The final report looks to other reasons to add to the phenomenon:
Added to this are other factors such as “industrialization, the sexual revolution, the fear of overpopulation and economic problems… Consumerism may also deter people from having children, simply so they can maintain a certain freedom and life-style”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 7)
The upright consciences of spouses who have been generous in transmitting life may lead them, for sufficiently serious reasons, to limit the number of their children, yet precisely “for the sake of this dignity of conscience, the Church strongly rejects the forced State intervention in favor of contraception, sterilization and even abortion”.(Relatio Finalis 2015, 63)
The Korean bishops weigh in, too:
Such measures are unacceptable even in places with high birth rates, yet also in countries with disturbingly low birth rates we see politicians encouraging them. As the bishops of Korea have said, this is “to act in a way that is self-contradictory and to neglect one’s duty”.(Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, Towards a Culture of Life! (15 March 2007), 2)
The concerns about increased population combined with climate change might bring fears about a catastrophic collapse in the ability of the world to feed its numbers. South Asia is particularly vulnerable to shifts in monsoon patterns and rising sea levels.
The Church would urge us to trust, even those places with higher birth rates. Yet it can be difficult to sort out what is authentic caution, what is mistaken caution, and what is a false concern.
What do you think?