In the question of demography, aren't Catholic moralists showing bad faith? In effect, they say that development entails a drop in the birth rate, but they hide the fact that this decline in the birth rate is obtained, in developed countries, by methods condemned by the Church.
a) It is true that in part the birth rate is regressing in the wealthy countries due to methods condemned by the Church. The best proof that these techniques are evil and that the Church has the right and duty to condemn them is precisely that the countries in which they are used have fallen below the rate of fertility needed for the replacement of their population.
In the rich countries, this rate is 2.1 children per woman of childbearing age. One can easily see that these methods are bad from the results to which they lead. If they continue to be applied as they have been, the nations which use them on a grand scale will disappear.
From 1960 to 1980 the birth rate among women of childbearing age went from 2.57 to 1.60 in Belgium. In France it went from 2.56 to 1.62, despite the significant immigration. In turn, the latter poses different problems. Is it an exaggeration, then, to speak of the suicide of a nation?
Whether one wants to listen to the Church or not when she condemns these methods, the fact remains, and attention better be paid to it, that they are ravaging the countries in which they are widely used. They are not, therefore, good.
b) On the other hand, it is entirely correct to say that in countries where there is absolutely no effective protection for the poor, aggravated poverty increases in a formidable way the desire to have numerous children, because that is the sole means of survival. All who work the earth know that poor people often say: "There will be at least one or another of my children who will feed and care for me when I get old."
How can one say the Church is wrong? She says that in societies that do not protect the poor strata of the population, it is poverty itself that drives one to this way of surviving pinned to the affection of a child. The deep and really unique reason that inspires this conduct -one which Marx perfectly identified- is that the child represents the sole riches of the poor. To have a lot of children is the only recourse the poor have for surviving in the future.
When there is no social security, who will feed the aged if not their children? And since these children are themselves victims of a very elevated mortality rate because they are badly cared for and don't have enough to eat, they have to make quite an effort to survive.
Hence, it is perfectly logical to say that when one fights effectively against poverty, this search for assurance - from offspring - loses its reasonableness. This new situation, then, diminishes the desire and need for numerous descendants.
c) Catholic moralists, accordingly, have no reason to hide behind such a situation. They must, on the contrary, denounce it and contribute towards its remedy. To those who ask approval for their "modern" methods, the Church recommends: "Take note of where your actions are leading you. You were told that these methods were evil; see, nature itself is showing you that you're doing evil to yourselves and to others."
d) However, the Church has never pretended that it is easy to reach a regulation of births, in a given population, by honorable methods. She emphasizes, nevertheless, a regularly hidden fact: namely, that once one uses dishonorable and inhuman methods, one is headed for catastrophe. Either it doesn't work, or one kills oneself.
We must end by wondering whether the reproach of hypocrisy shouldn't be sent to another address.
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