MARCH-APRIL 1996 page 17

An informal coalition is forming to help combat the opposition of the Roman Catholic Church to desperately-needed national and international family planning and population growth control programs. Signers of this petition will become part of this broad coalition.

WITH ITS HISTORY of service to humanity, its extraordinary organization and its wealth, the Roman Catholic Church could have contributed greatly to containment and solution of the current crisis of world population growth. Instead, because of its intransigent opposition to modern methods of family limitation, based on the 1968 papal encyclical Humanae Vitae banning birth control, its role has been just the opposite: it has contributed greatly to the overpopulation dilemma itself Ñ and thus also to continuation of the servile status of women in many countries, to failure of efforts to improve the health of women and their infants, to the spread of hunger and serious malnutrition, to depletion of our planet's natural resources and destruction of the environment.

We are convinced that the position of the pope and his church is quite simply immoral, and wrong, and will continue to cripple national and international programs designed to bring humanity's population growth under control. We say this in the context of our own deep beliefs and espousal of family values.

We believe the billions of couples the world around who want to limit their family size by safe, effective and humane means, hold the high moral ground in this dispute. We also resent, and will mobilize to resist, the undemocratic means by which papal power has harassed and intimidated governments at all levels in their efforts to provide family planning services.

The Roman Church's dogma of papal infallibility has precluded any effective efforts to rescind or modify the ban on contraception imposed by Humanae Vitae. [World population has increased by more than 2,000,000,000 since the encyclical was released just 26 years ago.] One recent liberalizing effort within the Roman Church - an effort that naturally failed - was the recommendation of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences urging limits on family size to avert "insoluble problems" caused by runaway growth; the Academy recommended that family size be limited to about two children per couple.

Demands of the Vatican that the edicts of Humanae Vitae be followed are made to ensure survival of the principle of infallibility and the institution of the papacy. The price of these demands in human terms - in suffering, illness and premature death - is so great as to make such demands immoral. On these grounds we believe the "non-member state permanent observer status" of the Holy See in the United Nations as well as its similar relationships with specialized agencies in the UN system, is inappropriate and should be terminated as soon as possible.

Readers of The Churchman's Human Quest who wish to add their names to this petition may mail them to:

Center for Research on Population and Security,

P.O. Box 13067, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina 27709



1074 23rd Avenue North St. Petersburg, FL 33704