AP 06/16 18:23 EDT V0297

The Associated Press

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa joined the battle over a proposed U.N. population-control program Thursday by supporting contraception and some abortions.

The Vatican, which vigorously opposes artificial contraception, is campaigning against a liberal U.N. draft program to curb world population growth and give women more power to decide the size of their families.

The archbishop, who won the 1984 Nobel Peace Prize for his fight against apartheid in South Africa, emphatically supported the draft.

The Vatican says the program, to be adopted at a conference in Cairo, Egypt, in September, would legitimize "abortion on demand, sexual promiscuity and distorted notions of the family."

But at a news conference, Tutu, the Anglican church leader in Cape Town, disagreed. "Planned parenthood is an obligation of those who are Christians," he said. "Our church thinks we should use scientific methods that assist in planning of families. "We accept and approve of contraception. It is far better to have children that we want than to say you must have children, no matter what."

He added that there are "quite a number of occasions," as in cases of rape and incest, "when abortion would be justifiable, not something done irresponsibly."

Unlike the Roman Catholic church, the Anglican church does not oppose birth control and abortion.

Without identifying the Vatican by name, Tutu disputed what the Vatican calls the imposition of radical feminist and Western views upon developing nations and women of color.

Marking the Day of the African Child, he also condemned violence against children in Rwanda, Liberia, Somalia and elsewhere in Africa.

He criticized not only the people who slaughtered some 200,000 people in the past two months in Rwanda, but also Western countries that he said did not move swiftly enough to approve and equip a U.N. peacekeeping force.

The United States, the biggest U.N. donor and debtor, could have dramatically speeded the Rwanda relief efforts by paying its U.N. arrears, he said.

The welfare of Africa's children depends on the improvement of African economies, Tutu said, and he called for a six-month moratorium on debt repayments.

The U.N. Children's Fund sponsors the annual Day of the African Child in memory of children in Soweto, South Africa, who were massacred by police on June 16, 1976 for protesting apartheid.

Tutu criticized some African leaders, although not by name, for oppressing their own people and worsening the poverty in their countries. He urged demilitarizing Africa, so the money saved could be used for social services, water, clinics, schools, housing and health care for children.