How the Catholic Church and politics helped cause overpopulation and overshoot

[ All of what follows is from the article below.  Mumford makes the case that:

“Had the recommendations of NSSM 200 been implemented in 1975, the world would be very different today. The prospects would have improved for every nation and people to be significantly more secure. There would be less civil and regional warfare, less starvation and hunger, a cleaner environment and less disease, greater educational opportunities, expanded civil rights, especially for women, and a political climate more conducive to the expansion of democracy.”  

In other words, we wouldn’t be over the carrying capacity of the United States (~100 million) and the world as fossil fuels decline and would be better able to cope with the decline as well.  Climate change and the damage we’ve done to top soil, pollution, depleted fresh water, and so on are likely to reduce carrying capacity even further.  If NSSM 200 had been passed, it is likely that U.S. and global population would be much less than 7 billion, there’d be far less poverty, better paying jobs since it is only the rich that want more labor so they can pay workers less, and the number of organisms going extinct would likely be less, and the risks of nuclear war over remaining resources less as well. 

Alice Friedemann  author of “When Trucks Stop Running: Energy and the Future of Transportation, 2015, Springer]

Mumford, S. D. February 5, 2012. Excerpts from: The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy. Church and State.

“Editor’s note: Given this November’s U.S. Presidential election and the Catholic Church’s immense stake in the outcome, we are publishing a series of articles by our chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford, founder and President of the North Carolina-based Center for Research on Population and Security. The following article draws from selected passages of Dr. Mumford’s seminal book, The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (1996). It reveals the anti-democratic and anti-American machinations of the Vatican that killed the United States’ National Security Study Memorandum 200 (NSSM 200) report and succeeded in destroying American political will to deal with the overpopulation problem. This article is as relevant and revealing today as it was when it was first published by Focus in 1998.

The 1960s saw a surge in American public awareness of the world population problem. The invention of the contraceptive pill in 1960 stimulated broad public debate on birth control and the need for it.

When Pope John XXIII created the Papal Commission on Population and Birth Control in 1963, he gave the world hope that the Church was about to change its position on birth control. After all, why would the Vatican study the issue if the Church was not in a position to change its teaching on birth control?

In 1968, Paul Ehrlich published his book, The Population Bomb, the most successful book of its kind, ever.[1] That same year, the journal Science published one of its most controversial articles ever, an essay by Garrett Hardin titled, “The Tragedy of the Commons,”[2] which sparked much discussion of the overpopulation threat.

Among mainstream protestant denominations, the Presbyterians were one of the first to call for a forthright response to the problem. In 1965, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) urged “the government of the United States to be ready to assist countries who request help in the development of programs of voluntary planned parenthood as a practical and humane means of controlling fertility and population growth.”

In 1971, it recognized that reliance on private, voluntary decisions:  “will not be sufficient to provide the necessary limitation of population growth unless there is a radical and rapid change in the attitudes and desires. The Church must commit itself to effecting this change. The assumption that couples have the freedom to have as many children as they can support should be challenged. We can no longer justify bringing into existence as many children as we desire. Our corporate responsibility to each other prohibits this. Given the population crisis we must recognize and teach, beginning with ourselves, that man has an obligation to limit the size of his family.”

And in 1972, the Presbyterians called on governments “to take such actions as will stabilize population size…. We who are motivated by the urgency of over-population rather than the prospect of decimation would preserve the species by responding in faith: Do not multiply—the earth is filled!”[3]

This kind of increasing out cry for action made it safe—almost compelling—for American political leadership to identify with the concept of population growth control and to call for new programs to deal with the problem.

It was in this climate of rising concern that President Nixon sent to Congress his “Special Message on Problems of Population Growth.” Special messages to the Congress are exceedingly rare and this was the first such message on population. This action punctuated the beginning of the peak of American political will to deal with the mounting population crisis. The message, for the first time, committed the United States to confronting the population problem. Also rare, this special message was approved by the Congress. Its passage was bipartisan, indicating broad political support for American political action to combat this problem. The message was a water shed development, yet few recall it.

The most important element of the Special Message was its creation of the Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. During the signing of the bill establishing the Commission, President Nixon commented on the broad political and public support: “I believe this is an historic occasion. It has been made historic not simply by the act of the President in signing this measure, but by the fact that it has had bipartisan support and also such broad support in the Nation.”

The 24 member Commission was chaired by John D. Rockefeller 3rd. It ordered more than 100 research projects which collected and analyzed data that would make possible the formulation of a comprehensive U.S. population policy. After 2 years of intense effort, the Commission completed a 186-page report titled, Population and the American Future which offered more than 70 recommendations. The recommendations were a bold but sane response to the challenges we faced in 1973. For example, they called for: passage of a Population Education Act to help school systems establish well-planned population education programs; sex education to be widely available for all, including minors, at government expense if necessary; vastly expanded research in many areas related to population-growth control; and the elimination of all employment of illegal aliens.

The recommendations represented the conclusions of some of the nation’s most capable people. The scientists who completed the Commission’s 100 research projects were among the best in their fields. These recommendations are included in this book because it is important for the reader to know what the U.S. response to the population problem could have been and should have been. On May 5, 1972, at a ceremony held for the purpose of formally submitting the Commission’s findings and conclusions, President Nixon publicly renounced the report.[4] This was 6 months before the President faced re-election and he was feeling intense political heat from one particularly powerful, foreign-controlled special interest group—the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church. Nothing happened toward implementation of any of the more than three score recommendations that collectively would have created a comprehensive U.S. population policy. Not one recommendation was ever adopted. To this day, the U.S. has no population policy, one of the few major countries with this distinction.

Had these 70 carefully reasoned recommendations been adopted as U.S. population policy in 1973—or if even a dozen or so of the most important ones had been adopted—America would be very different today. We would be more secure, subjected to less crime, better educated now with even greater educational opportunities ahead, living with less stress in a healthier environment, with more secure employment and greater employment opportunities, with better medical care, all in a physically less crowded America.

We would have set an example for the world, and we have good reason to believe that much of the world would have followed. Ironically, the American people were better prepared to accept these recommendations in 1973 than in 1994, even though world population during this brief period has mushroomed a horrendous 43 percent. For the past 20 years, all of us have been subjected to an intense disinformation program staged by the opposition to raise doubts in each of us regarding the seriousness of the population problem.

Despite the intense opposition President Nixon encountered in the wake of the Rockefeller Commission Report, his assessment of the gravity of the overpopulation problem and his desire to deal with it evidently remained unchanged. On April 24, 1974, nearly 18 months after his re-election, in the single most significant act of his presidency regarding the population crisis, Mr. Nixon directed, in NSSM 200, that a comprehensive new study be undertaken to determine the “Implications of World Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests.” The report of this study would become one of the most important documents on world population growth ever written.

In NSSM 200, National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, acting for the President, directed the Secretaries of Defense and Agriculture, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, the Deputy Director of State and the Administrator of the Agency for International Development (AID), to undertake the population study jointly. The report on this study was completed on December 10, 1974 and circulated to the designated Secretaries and Agency heads for their review and comments.

On August 9, 1974, Gerald Ford succeeded to the presidency. Revisions of the study continued until July, 1975. On November 26, 1975, the 227-page report and its recommendations were endorsed by President Ford in NSDM 314: “The President has reviewed the interagency response to NSSM 200…,” wrote the new National Security Advisor, Brent Scowcroft. “He believes that United States leadership is essential to combat population growth, to implement the World Population Plan of Action and to advance United States security and overseas interests. The President endorses the policy recommendations contained in the Executive Summary of the NSSM 200 response…”

President Ford, recognizing the gravity of the situation, directed NSDM 314 not only to the Departments and Agencies cited above. He also directed it to the Secretaries of Health, Education and Welfare and Treasury, the Director of Management and Budget, the Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Council of Economic Advisers, and the Council on Environmental Quality. He made it clear to all of the relevant Departments and Agencies of the United States Government that he intended this to become the foundation of population policy for our government.

Mr. Ford assigned responsibility for further action to the National Security Council (NSC): “The President, therefore, assigns to the Chairman, NSC Undersecretaries Committee, the responsibility to define and develop policy in the population field and to coordinate its implementation beyond the NSSM 200 response.” To this day, the policy set forth in NSDM 314 has not been officially rescinded.

NSSM 200 itself is a 227-page document. The report requested in NSSM 200 bears the title, NSSM 200: Implications of Worldwide Population Growth for U.S. Security and Overseas Interests. It consists of a 29-page Executive Summary and a two-part report 198 typescript pages in length. The report was never printed or published. It was typewritten, double-spaced.

The potential importance of this document to U.S. security and the security of all nations was and remains immense. Both the findings and the recommendations have become increasingly relevant and urgent over the years. For this reason I have included the complete document here.

The NSSM 200 study details how and why continued rapid world population growth gravely threatens U.S. and global security. It also provides a blueprint for the U.S. response to this burgeoning problem, reflecting the deep concern of those who produced the report. Their strategy is complex, raising difficult questions. Some suggested policies are necessarily bold and the report’s authors urged that it be classified for five years to prepare the American public for full acceptance of the goals proposed. However, it remained classified for 14 years for reasons that are unclear.

The intense concern of the authors is clearly evident. NSSM 200 reports:

There is a major risk of severe damage [from continued rapid population growth] to world economic, political, and ecological systems and, as these systems begin to fail, to our humanitarian values.”[5] “…World population growth is widely recognized within the Government as a current danger of the highest magnitude calling for urgent measures.”[6] “…It is of the utmost urgency that governments now recognize the facts and implications of population growth, determine the ultimate population sizes that make sense for their countries and start vigorous programs at once to achieve their goals.[7]

NSSM 200 made the following recommendations, to mention a few:

  • The U.S. would provide world leadership in population growth control.[8]
  • The U.S. would seek to attain its own population stability by the year 2000.[9] This would have required a one-child family policy for the U.S., thanks to the phenomenon of demographic momentum, a requirement the authors well understood (the Chinese did not adopt their one-child family policy until 1977).
  • Have as goals for the U.S.: making family planning information, education and means available to all people of the developing world by 1980,[10] and achieving a 2-child family in the developing countries by 2000.”[11]
  • The U.S. would provide substantial funds to help achieve these goals.[12]

But, as in the case of the Rockefeller Commission Report, the implementation of recommendations made in NSSM 200—approved by President Ford, with his approval communicated to all relevant Departments and Agencies in our government—was halted mainly through the influence of the same opposition that had precluded adoption of the Rockefeller Commission recommendations.

Had the recommendations of NSSM 200 been implemented in 1975, the world would be very different today. The prospects would have improved for every nation and people to be significantly more secure. There would be less civil and regional war fare, less starvation and hunger, a cleaner environment and less disease, greater educational opportunities, expanded civil rights, especially for women, and a political climate more conducive to the expansion of democracy.

Excerpts from: Chapter 5: “What Happened to the Momentum?”

November 26, 1975 marked the end of the peak of American political will to deal with the overpopulation problem. This was the day that President Ford approved NSDM 314, committing the U.S. to a bold policy of population growth control. The peak lasted less than 6 years and then the momentum plummeted and our commitment has since diminished every year.

As noted in the Introduction, when Mr. Nixon received the report, Population and the American Future, from Mr. Rockefeller in May 1972, the President publicly rejected it—just six months before he faced reelection. In his book, Catholic Bishops in American Politics, Timothy A. Byrnes, assistant professor of political science at the City College of New York, states,

Hoping to attract Catholics to his reelection campaign, Nixon publicly disavowed the pro-choice findings of his own presidential commission on population in 1972. He communicated that disavowal in an equally public-letter to Cardinal Terence Cooke [of New York], a leading spokesman for the bishops’ opposition to abortion…. The Catholic vote was especially important to Nixon and his publicists in 1972. They referred to Catholic support of the Republican ticket in order to refute the notion that Nixon had formed his new coalition by cynically appealing to the baser motives of Southern whites. They relied on Catholic participation in the new majority, in other words, as proof that the “social issue” was much more than repackaged racial prejudice. As one of these publicists, Patrick Buchanan, put it: “Though his critics were crying ‘Southern Strategy,’ the President’s politics and policy decisions were not going unnoticed in the Catholic and ethnic communities of the North, East, and Midwest.[13]

Nixon was convinced that if he were to win in 1972, he must carry Southern whites and northern Catholics. He looked to the Catholic bishops for their support. Byrnes goes on to say, “Regardless of what it is based on, however, a perception that the bishops can influence votes has been enough to make candidates sensitive to the bishops.” And as the saying goes, in politics perceptions often create their own realities. He continues,

The bishops have more than just access to Catholic voters, of course. They also have virtually unparalleled institutional resources at their disposal. ‘If you are a bishop,’ Walter Mondale’s 1984 campaign manager said to me, ‘you’ve got some pretty substantial organizational capabilities…. You’ve got a lot of people, you’ve got money, places to meet…. You’ve got a lot of things that any good politician would like to have at his disposal.’ You also have the ability, if you are the Catholic hierarchy collectively, to create or fortify movements in support of your preferred policy positions.[14]

Byrnes argues that: the bishops are able to bring virtually unrivaled resources to any cause or effort they decide to support; the bishops committed those resources to the fight against abortion in the 1970s; in the process they played a key role in the creation and maintenance of a large social movement. This movement was the so-called Religious New Right movement. This movement was still in its infancy at the time of Nixon’s reelection bid in 1972 but the bishops were highly organized, single minded and prepared to deal. In his letter to Cardinal Cooke, Nixon made it clear that he too was prepared to deal. Nixon was reelected with the bishops’ support.

During the year that followed the presentation of the Rockefeller Commission Report, it became clear that there would be no further response to the Commission’s recommendations. In May, 1973 a group of pioneer population activists acknowledged this inaction and asked Ambassador Adolph Schmidt to speak with his friend, Commission Chairman John D. Rockefeller 3rd. They met in June, 1973 at the Century Club in New York City. Schmidt noted his own disappointment and that of his colleagues because no program had been mounted as a result of the Commission’s recommendations. What had gone wrong? Rockefeller responded: “The greatest difficulty has been the very active opposition by the Roman Catholic Church through its various agencies in the United States.”[15]

In 1992, one Rockefeller Commission member, Congressman James Scheuer (D-NY), spoke out publicly for the first time on what had happened: “Our exuberance was short-lived. Then-President Richard Nixon promptly ignored our final report. The reasons were obvious—the fear of attacks from the far right and from the Roman Catholic Church because of our positions on family planning and abortion. With the benefit of hindsight, it is now clear that this obstruction was but the first of many similar actions to come from high places.”[16]

None of the Commission’s more than 70 recommendations was ever implemented. It is most disturbing that the American people were kept in the dark about this undemocratic and unAmerican intervention by the Vatican. It simply was not considered newsworthy because the press chose not to make it so. I believe both Catholic and non-Catholic Americans would have strongly rejected such interference in the American democratic process had they been aware of it. The quality of life for all Americans has been diminished by this unconstitutional manipulation of American policy, undertaken for the purposes of protecting papal interests.

Excerpts from: Chapter 6: “Why Did our Political Will Fade Away?”

How Population Growth Control Threatens the Papacy

Why is the Catholic Church obliged to halt legalized abortion and contraception despite the strong wishes of Americans? When our government legalized contraception and abortion, it pitted civil authority against papal authority. The Vatican demands supremacy over civil governments in matters of faith and morals, but our government has rejected this concept. Thus, while the Church is saying that family planning and abortion are evil and grave sins, our government is saying they may be good and should be used. Obviously, most American Catholics are accepting morality as defined by the government and rejecting morality as defined by the pope. As a result, papal authority is undermined.

There are a number of Catholic countries in Latin America which have abortion rates 2 to 4 times as high as the U.S. rate. But the bishops ignore abortions there. Why? Because they are illegal abortions, not legal ones. They do not threaten papal authority! Only legal abortions do, because their legalization establishes their morality. Thus, the bishops take no significant actions to halt abortions in Latin America.

In Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites,[35] published by The University of California Press in 1980, Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Montreal, closely examines the sources of papal power and how it evolved. He found that papal authority is vital to the maintenance of papal power. This power is derived in significant part from papal authority. If the pope’s authority is diminished, papal power is diminished. However, some authority is derived from papal power and if papal power is diminished, then authority is undermined. The relationship is circular. Less authority means less power which means even less authority. With diminishing power, survival of the institution of the Roman Catholic Church in its present hierarchical form is gravely threatened. Thus, the very survival of the Vatican is threatened by programs of population growth control.

In his book, Persistent Prejudice: Anti-Catholicism in America, published by Our Sunday Visitor in 1984, Michael Schwartz summarized the position of Catholic conservatives on the abortion issue:

The abortion issue is the great crisis of Catholicism in the United States, of far greater import than the election of a Catholic president or the winning of tax support for Catholic education. In the unlikely event that the Church’s resistance to abortion collapses and the Catholic community decides to seek an accommodation with the institutionalized killing of innocent human beings, that would signal the utter failure of Catholicism in America. It would mean that U.S. Catholicism will have been defeated and denatured by the anti-Catholic host culture.[36]

In April, 1992, in a rare public admission of this threat, Cardinal John O’Connor of New York, delivering a major address to the Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, acknowledged, “The fact is that attacks on the Catholic Church’s stance on abortion—unless they are rebutted—effectively erode Church authority on all matters, indeed on the authority of God himself.”[37]

This threat to papal authority was recognized decades ago by the Papal Commission on Population and Birth Control. The two tiered commission consisted of a group of 15 cardinals and bishops and a group of 64 lay experts representing a variety of disciplines. The Commission met from 1964 until 1966. According to commission member Thomas Burch, the pope himself, Pope Paul VI, assigned the commission the task of finding a way of changing the Church’s position on birth control without destroying the pope’s authority.[38]

After 2 years of studying the dilemma, the laymen voted 60 to 4 and the clerics 9 to 6 to change the Church’s teaching on birth control even though it would mean a loss of papal authority because it was the right thing to do. The minority also submitted a report to the pope.

In 1967, two newspapers published without authorization the full texts of the Papal Commission’s report. Thus the world knew that a substantial majority of the double commission had recommended liberalization on birth control.[39] The commission, of course, failed to find an acceptable way to accomplish this, and the result was the publication In 1968 of the encyclical, Humanae Vitae, which banned the use of contraception.

It was not until 1985 that Thomas Burch, in the 1960s a professor at Georgetown University and more recently chairman of Western Ontario’s Sociology Department, revealed to the world the real assignment of the commission. When Pope Paul issued Humanae Vitae, he admitted to the world that the Church cannot change its position on birth control without undermining papal authority—an unacceptable sacrifice. However, it was not until 1979, when August Bernhard Hasler published his book, How the Pope Became Infallible, that the world was given the text of the minority report which persuaded Pope Paul VI to reject the majority position.[40] Hasler was a Catholic theologian and historian who served for five years in the Vatican Secretariat for Christian Unity. During this period, he was given access to the Vatican Archives where he discovered numerous documents, which had never been studied before, that revealed the story of Vatican Council I. Dr. Hasler died suddenly at age 43, four days after writing a critical open letter to Pope John Paul II and six months after completing the second edition of this book.[41]

“The Declaration of Papal Infallibility” was a product of Vatican Council I, which preceded Vatican Council II more than a century ago, and was considered vital to the continuation of papal power. According to Vaillancourt,

During the Middle Ages and under feudalism, when the Catholic Church was a dominant institution in society, papal power grew in importance, relying often on force to attain its ends, which were political as much as they were religious. The Crusades and later on, the Inquisition, stand as the two most notorious of these violent papal ventures. But with the decline of the Portuguese and Spanish empires, with the advent of the Reformation and of the intellectual, democratic, and Industrial revolutions, the Catholic hierarchy lost much of its influence and power. Unable to continue using physical coercion, the Papacy was led to strengthen its organizational structure and to perfect a wide range of normative means of control. The declaration of papal Infallibility by the first Vatican Council (Vatican I), in 1870, was an important milestone in that direction. The stress on the absolute authority of the pope in questions of faith and morals helped turn the Church into a unified and powerful bureaucratic organization, and paved the way for the establishment of the Papacy-laity relationship as we know it today.[42]

Pope Paul VI was faced with the prospect of personally destroying the concept of papal infallibility, a concept vital to the continuation of papal power. Hasler notes, “But for Paul VI there already were infallible declarations of the ordinary magisterium on the books concerning contraception. And so, unlike the majority of his commission of experts, the pope felt bound to these declarations by his predecessors.” Thus the pope was forced to agree with the minority report of the commission.

Hasler quotes from that report:

If it should be declared that contraception is not evil in itself, then we should have to concede frankly that the Holy Spirit had been on the side of the Protestant churches in 1930 (when the encyclical Casti conubli was promulgated), in 1951 (Pius XII’s address to the midwives), and in 1958 (the address delivered before the Society of Hematologists in the year the pope died). It should likewise have to be admitted that for a half century the Spirit failed to protect Pius XI, Pius XII, and a large part of the Catholic hierarchy from a very serious error.

This would mean that the leaders of the Church, acting with extreme imprudence, had condemned thousands of innocent human acts, forbidding, under pain of eternal damnation, a practice which would now be sanctioned. The fact can neither be denied nor ignored that these same acts would now be declared licit on the grounds of principles cited by the Protestants, which popes and bishops have either condemned or at least not approved.[43]

Hasler concludes, “Thus, it became only too clear that the core of the problem was not the pill but the authority, continuity, and infallibility of the Church’s magisterium.”

This is at the very core of the world population problem. The papacy simply cannot survive the solutions—i.e. contraception, abortion, sex education, etc. The Vatican believes, probably correctly, that if the solutions to the population problem are applied, the dominance of Vatican power will soon wither. Grasping the implications of the principal of infallibility are crucial to understanding the underlying basis of the world population problem.

It is most important to understand that the Vatican leadership can visualize a world where it no longer exists. It was this chilling vision that drove the conservative members of the Vatican leadership and Pope Paul VI to reject the majority report and accept the minority report of the Papal Commission on Population and Birth Control in 1968. This vision has driven Vatican behavior on family planning ever since. Thus, the security survival of the papacy is now pitted directly against the security-survival of the United States. The Vatican simply cannot accommodate U.S. security interests.

This is not the first time our security interests have been in conflict. There are many examples of the American Catholic hierarchy supporting papal security interests at the expense of U.S. security interests. One example is the Spanish Civil War between the democratic constitutional government and the Vatican supported fascist Franco. Byrnes states, “The bishops also broke with Roosevelt over the issue of the Spanish Civil War…. The bishops instinctively supported Franco in the war…. Caught between mainstream views on foreign policy and the interests of their church, the bishops…opted for defense of the international church.”[44]

It is institutional survival that governs the behavior of the Catholic hierarchy in all matters. The claim that “morality” governs its behavior in the matters of family planning and abortion is fraudulent. The hierarchy has a long history of determining which position is in the best interests of the papacy—including the survival of the papacy—and then framing that position as the moral position. Father Arthur McCormack was for 23 years the Vatican consultant to the UN on development and population, leaving that post in 1979. In 1982, he went public with his conclusion that the Vatican position on family planning and population growth control is immoral.

American political will to deal with the overpopulation problem fell victim to the Vatican’s inexorable position. In the next chapter we will discuss how the Vatican achieved this vital objective, as it set about protecting its security interests.

Excerpts from: Chapter 7: “What was the Role of the Vatican?”

Did the Vatican succeed in changing U.S. policy on family planning, abortion and population growth control? Time magazine concluded that it most certainly did. The headline on the cover of the February 24, 1992 issue of Time magazine was “Holy Alliance: How Reagan and the Pope conspired to assist Poland’s Solidarity movement and hasten the demise of Communism.”[48] The cover article was written by Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Carl Bernstein. Bernstein listed Reagan’s “Catholic team,” noting that “The key administration players were all devout Roman Catholics—CIA chief William Casey, [Richard] Allen [Reagan’s first National Security Advisor], [William] Clark [Reagan’s second National Security Advisor], [Alexander] Haig [Secretary of State], [Vernon] Walters [Ambassador at Large] and William Wilson, Reagan’s first ambassador to the Vatican. They regarded the U.S.-Vatican relationship as a holy alliance: the moral force of the Pope and the teachings of their church combined with…their notion of American democracy.”

How the Catholic church

The Pope Called the Tune

In a section of his Time article headed “The U.S. and the Vatican on Birth Control,” Bernstein included three revealing paragraphs:

In response to concerns of the Vatican, the Reagan Administration agreed to alter its foreign-aid program to comply with the church’s teachings on birth control. According to William Wilson, the President’s first ambassador to the Vatican, the State Department reluctantly agreed to an outright ban on the use of any U.S. aid funds by either countries or international health organizations for the promotion of…abortions. As a result of this position, announced at the World Conference on Population in Mexico City in 1984, the U.S. withdrew funding from, among others, two of the world’s largest family planning organizations: the International Planned Parenthood Federation and the United Nations Fund for Population Activities.

‘American policy was changed as a result of the Vatican’s not agreeing with our policy,’ Wilson explains. ‘American aid programs around the world did not meet the criteria the Vatican had for family planning. AID [the Agency for International Development] sent various people from [the Department of] State to Rome, and I’d accompany them to meet the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, and in long discussions they finally got the message. But it was a struggle. They finally selected different programs and abandoned others as a result of this intervention.’

‘I might have touched on that in some of my discussions with [CIA director William] Casey,’ acknowledges Pio Cardinal Laghi, the former apostolic delegate to Washington. ‘Certainly Casey already knew about our positions about that.’

Thus, Bernstein makes clear what the cadre of devout Catholics in the Reagan Administration did to protect the Papacy from the recommendations of NSSM 200. Simply put, these strategically-placed Catholic laymen, and the U.S. bishops with direct papal support and intervention, succeeded in destroying the American political will to deal with the population problem.”


[1]. Ehrlich PR. The Population Bomb. New York: Ballantine Books, 1968.
[2]. Hardin G. “The Tragedy of the Commons.” Science 1968 162: 1243-8.
[3]. Beck R. “Religions and the Environment: Commitment High Until U.S. Population Issues Raised.” The Social Contract 1993:3: 76-89.
[4]. (a) Nixon, R. “Special Message to the Congress on Problems of Population Growth,” July 18, 1969. Public papers of the Presidents, No. 271, p. 521, Office of the Federal Register, National Archives, Washington, DC. 1971. (b) Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. “Population and the American Future.” Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972. 176 pp.
[5]. National Security Council. NSSM 200: Implications of worldwide population growth for U.S. security and overseas Interests. Washington, DC, December 10, 1974.
[6]. Ibid., p. 184.
[7]. Ibid., p. 78.
[8]. Ibid., p. 59.
[9]. Ibid., p. 62.
[10]. Ibid., p. 148.
[11]. Ibid., p.59.
[12]. Ibid., p. 65.

Chapter 5
[13]. Brynes TA. Catholic Bishops In American Politics, Lawrenceville, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991. P. 66
[14]. Ibid., p.4
[15]. Schmidt AW. Personal Communication. August 28, 1992.
[16]. Scheuer J. “A disappointing outcome: United States and World Population Trends since the Rockefeller Commission.” The Social Contract 1992; Summer: 203-206.

Chapter 6
[35] Vaillancourt JG. Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980.
[36] Schwartz M. Persistent Prejudice: Anti-Catholicism In America. Huntington Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 1984. P. 132.
[37] King HV. “Cardinal O’Connor Declares That Church Teaching On Abortion Underpins All Else.” The Wanderer, April 23, 1992, p. 1.
[38] Jones A. Vatican, “International Agencies Hone Family, Population Positions.” National Catholic Reporter (reprinted in Conscience, May/June 1984. P. 7).
[39] Murphy FX, Erhart JF. “Catholic perspectives on population Issues.” Pop Bulletin 1975; 30(6): 3-3 1.
[40] Hasler AB. How the Pope Became Infallible. Garden City, New York: Doubleday, 1981.
[41] Ibid. (cover)
[42] Vaillancourt, op.cit., p. 2.
[43] Hasler, op. cit., p. 270.
[44] Byrnes, op. cit., p. 29.

Chapter 7
[48] Bernstein C. “The Holy Alliance.” Time, February 24, 1992.

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