A Few Quick Thoughts

Having watched Peter Tatchell’s documentary “The Trouble With The Pope” and reading discussions of the Pope’s comments yesterday I’m struck by a potential bone of contention regarding the Vatican’s stance against artificial contraception.

In Peter Tatchell’s documentary and comments made by the signatories of an open letter protesting the Pope’s visit, the claim is made that the Vatican’s stance against Artificial Contraception has had the effect of increasing large families in developing countries, as highlighted in “The Trouble With The Pope” in the Philipines.

Criticisms of this claim and of this documentary in particular have mentioned such factors as developing countries having large families as part of standard practice in order to have a large base of people contributing the wealth of the family by all contributing to work, in the case of the Philipino family in the documentary this involves trolling the local rubbish dump for plastic to sell.

The problem is though, no one is saying that a large family in a developing country is a bad thing, nor is anyone saying it leads directly to a deeper poverty, but the thing is, it quite often exacerbates the problem of poverty. Yes you may have more people contributing to the wealth of the family, but you also have far more responsibility to look after and care for these children and feed them, which is not cheap, thereby increasing the financial footprint required to keep everyone in reasonable health.

The main problem, however, is that no one is being given a choice in this situation. In the Philipines, the Pope’s comments are taken as truth and so the comments of the local bishops condemning condoms and saying “you should have as many children as possible” (quote from the documentary) are also taken as Church’s direct position on your family situation. Given a devout person, how likely is it that they will be in a position of totally free and uninfluenced choice in this decision…?

Furthermore, there are criticisms of the documentary saying that, unlike the impression given in the documentary and comments made by people being interviewed in the Philipines, most of what the Pope say is not to be considered infallible as there are restrictions as to when his comments should be considered as such and there is a claim that the last actually infallible comment made by the Pope was in the 1950’s.

This is however completely irrelevant to the point. The point is that people in the Philipines take his comments as infallible regardless of whether or not they should be considered as such or not. They see the leader of the Catholic Church condemn condoms, and they say to themselves “well, God’s representative on Earth has told us that we can’t use condoms”. They certainly don’t think “well, here’s an entirely subjective opinion about the perceived morality of using some machined latex to prevent insemination during intercourse, which I can examine for myself and decide whether I agree with it or not and then further decide whether I would like to live my life based on this pronouncement or not.”

That’s it for the moment from me.



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