Statement from Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry:
The Center for Inquiry has reviewed the encyclical, Laudato Si, issued today by the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis.
The Center for Inquiry shares Pope Francis’s concern about the environment and welcomes his recognition of the scientific consensus regarding the cause of climate change, namely greenhouse gases generated by human activity. We also applaud his recognition that our environmental crisis extends beyond climate change, as we are depleting our water supplies and decreasing biodiversity. However, we regret that the Pope does not acknowledge that the Catholic Church has contributed to these problems by its irrational and adamant opposition to responsible family planning.
Indeed, not only does Pope Francis fail to acknowledge the harm caused by the Church’s opposition to birth control, but, astonishingly, he uses this encyclical to inveigh once again against family planning, claiming that legitimate concern about population growth is “one way of refusing to face the issues.”
It is the Catholic Church that is “refusing to face the issues.” Overpopulation is certainly not the sole cause of our environmental crisis, but there’s no question it is a significant contributing cause, and a rapidly expanding population will only exacerbate our environmental problems.
The pope’s continued unjustified opposition to birth control ultimately will detract from the weight given his other observations, some of which have merit. No one who thinks using a condom constitutes a grave moral evil can be taken seriously as an expert on the world’s problems. Pope Francis expends much energy decrying the misuse of technology. In the final analysis, his encyclical demonstrates that the world suffers as much from dogmatic thinking as it does from abuses of technology.