The environmental agenda and the teaching of the Catholic Church

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Voice of the Family is pleased to publish Environmental Concerns and the Dignity and Inviolability of the Human Person. This document, written by Rev. Dr John Fleming, explores the Catholic approach to the protection of the created world.

In recent months, as we await the publication of the Encyclical Letter Laudato Sii, environmental issues have come to the forefront of discussion within the Catholic Church. Voice of the Family has publicly expressed our concern that leading architects of the United Nation’s population control movement have been assisting the Vatican in crafting its response to environmental questions. The population control movement has used environmental concerns to push for increased access to abortion and contraception. The concerns of Voice of the Family, and other groups, have been heightened by comments made by those within the Vatican who have played a leading role in the Vatican’s co-operation with the population control lobby.

Archbishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academies of Science and Social Sciences, which hosted the “Protect the Earth, Dignify Humanity” conference at the Vatican in April,  issued a deeply disturbing denial of the connection between the term “reproductive health” and the promotion of abortion and contraception. In an interview with Stefano Gennarini the Archbishop claimed: “We had these discussions, and as you can see, the draft SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) don’t even mention abortion or population control. They speak of access to family planning and sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights. The interpretation and application of these depends on governments.” In fact the Holy See has worked for decades to oppose the use of such language precisely because it is known that it is used to promote population control, including abortion and contraception.  Sorondo’s comments are a repudiation of the collective experience and efforts of the Holy See and the pro-life movement over many decades.

Professor Margaret Archer, President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS), also caused grave disquiet when she told a pro-life activist who criticised the PASS’s approach “I am appointed by the Pope and responsible directly to him. I’m afraid that leaves you and your cohort out in the cold.” She accused the same pro-life activist of holding his “own minimalistic version of the Creed, consisting of the single item: ‘We believe in the ethical depravity of abortion.’” Professor Archer stated that she spent “hours” working with Jeffrey Sachs, one of the world’s leading population control advocates, and helped him to draft new inclusions for the Sustainable Development Goals. Sachs, who is a committed advocate of killing unborn children by abortion, should, she said, be considered as among “people of goodwill”.

The hostile responses of these two influential figures in the Vatican to the legitimate concerns of the pro-life, pro-family movement, demonstrate the necessity for explaining anew Catholic teaching on the environment, and on the relationship between the environmental agenda and pro-life concerns. For this reason Voice of the Family is pleased to publish the following reflections on Catholic teaching on environmental issues prepared by Rev. Dr John Fleming.

Rev. Dr Fleming is a priest and bioethicist. From 1987 to 2004 he was director of the Southern Cross Bioethics Institute. From 2004 to 2009 he served as the President of Campion College. Fr Fleming was a foundation member of UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee from 1992 until 1996. Since 1996 he has been a corresponding member of the Pontifical Academy for Life. He has written or contributed to numerous works on bioethics.

His work sets out clearly the fundamental theological positions that must underlie a truly Catholic approach to the environment and the proceeds to consider how Catholics should respond to the current agenda being pursued by the UN and other international bodies.

The document can be found here: Environmental Concerns and the Dignity and Inviolability of the Human Person

An executive summary can be read here.