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Population control activists to speak at the Vatican

The speakers are both advocates of contraception and abortion (Tiziana Fabi/AFP/Getty Images)

Two advocates of population control have been invited by pontifical academies to speak at the Vatican.

The Pontifical Academy of Science (PAS) and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences (PASS) are hosting an international conference on the environment at the end of February and have invited Paul Ehrlich, author of The Population Bomb, and John Bongaarts, an executive of the Population Council, to speak at the event.

The choice of Ehrlich is controversial not only due to his views on population but also as a result of his remarks about the Church and its teachings.

In 2015 Ehrlich denounced Laudato Si as “raving nonsense” for its failure to recognise the importance of contraception and abortion when dealing with climate change.

Meanwhile, in an article for the scientific journal Nature last year, John Bongaarts wrote: “Women should have the choice of multiple contraceptive methods – including not only pills, injectables and barrier methods, but also long-acting methods such as intrauterine devices and systems (IUDs and IUSs), implants and sterilisation.

“Where legal, safe abortion services should be made available. Other obstacles to contraceptive use, such as incorrect rumours about side effects and conservative social attitudes, should be addressed by the education of women and men, media campaigns and collaboration with community leaders.”

Michael Pakaluk, a philosophy professor at the Catholic University of America, has criticised the invitation. In an article for he wrote: “Moral theologians would speak in this context of ‘formal cooperation with evil’: to share in the evil commitments of another, they say, is to share in that evil – and to share, too, in responsibility for whatever further abortions, and corruptions of the marital bond, that Ehrlich and Bongaarts succeed in bringing about.

“The evil is compounded by the fact that an invitation to address any Pontifical Academy is a great honour. This honour can and will be used by these men in promoting their message. The US bishops have correctly written: ‘Catholic institutions should not honour those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honours or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.’

“Note that this principle is not binding because the bishops have articulated it; rather, the bishops have articulated it, because the principle is antecedently binding. It would seem to bind even a pontifical academy.”

Pakaluk also highlighted that Ehrlich once likened the Pope to a terrorist, saying that the Vatican and “their rigid opposition to something so basic, so critical to the future of life on Earth, as controlling reproduction, to be just as unethical as any major affront to the environment or terrorist act”.

In a recent interview with, Ehrlich said he was “delighted” with the direction the Pope was taking the Church in.