Excerpt from chapter 10 of our chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford’s book, American Democracy and the Vatican: Population Growth and National Security (1984). The book is available at Kindle here, and is available to read for free here.
Vatican Influence on Domestic and Foreign Policy-making in the United States
Most of the Vatican’s political influence in this country has been developed within this century. To achieve this end, it is undeniable that the Vatican has taken advantage of the fundamental fair-mindedness of the American people, and the hierarchy continues to gain strength in the genial and tolerant climate of America. Though it is apparent that the Vatican is influencing U.S. policy in other areas, such as the defense and military, we shall concern ourselves only with population growth control at this point.
The Vatican began its opposition to birth control in 1914; in 1930, the hierarchy became the world’s leading opponent of contraception. Since then, the hierarchy has been methodically crippling, prostituting, or destroying population growth control institutions around the world. With its “divine authority,” the Church has exercised its sovereignty over the United States in matters of “faith and morals” and politically opposed those activities at variance with “Catholic morality,” including all activities related to population growth control.
As late as September 20, 1983, the pope stated in the clearest of language the Church’s implacable position on contraception. Speaking at Castel Gandolfo to fifty bishops attending a seminar on responsible parenthood, the pope condemned artificial contraception in unprecedentedly severe terms. “Contraception,” he said, “is so illicit that it can never, for any reasons, be justified.” If there was any remaining doubt about this pope or the Church changing its position on contraception, it disappeared with this and other recent proclamations.
In December 1983, the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education issued “Educational Guidance in Human Love.” The document reaffirmed the Church’s teaching on sexuality. However, paragraph sixty-five of the document states, “It is the task of the state to safeguard its citizens against injustice and moral disorders such as the … improper use of demographic information.” The purpose of this paragraph is plain. The 1980 Synod of Bishops on the Family had decried “improper” use of demographic statistics to cause “hysteria” or other “emotional reactions” of despair. According to a report in Population Today, “This new warning against employing ‘improper’ demographics was based on the same concern, and—like the 1980 statement—was aimed squarely at governments. Preventing the ‘misuse’ of demographics is, according to the guideline, a government’s responsibility.”
In other words, it is the responsibility of governments to censor demographic information that suggests the existence of a population problem. Shortly after Reagan was elected, this “misuse” or “improper” use of demographic information all but stopped flowing from our government. Not since the Global 2000 Report was published in 1980 by the Carter administration has there been any significant information on overpopulation published by our government, no doubt in response to the 1980 Synod statement. It is as if the Reagan administration expects the problem of overpopulation to go away if it is ignored.
More recently, the Vatican has issued a new proclamation, Charter of the Rights of the Family (see, appendix five). According to this proclamation, governments and international agencies are obligated to: perform their duties in accordance with the “objective moral order” which excludes recourse to contraception, sterilization, and abortion; ban the concept of population growth control; ban incentives and disincentives for having small families; and provide big families with adequate public welfare (Article 3). Human life must be protected from the moment of conception (Article 4). Parents have the right to educate their children, and the Vatican will tell them what’s in the best interest of the children—not the federal Department of Education. Parents should receive tuition tax credits, and the government has a responsibility to subsidize church schools. Governments should ban sex education in schools. School prayer should be in all public schools. Government must control information and entertainment, favoring censorship in order to ensure public morality (Article 5). Public authorities must not grant divorce (Article 6). Families have the right to form “New Right” organizations to protect the family, undertake censorship, and so forth, and to lobby the government (Article 9). Governments must make it possible for mothers to have as many children as they choose and to be able to stay home and raise their families (Article 10).
“The Vatican is sending copies of its Family Charter to all governments and international agencies to serve ‘as a model and a point of reference for the drawing up of future legislation and family policy,’ according to Archbishop Edouard Gagnon, the Vatican’s family expert.” Furthermore, in a blatant show of bigotry and arrogance, the Holy See distributed copies of this document at the World Population Conference in Mexico City in August 1984.
We can expect to soon see these new pronouncements reflected in Reagan administration policy. In December 1981, it made one serious attempt to completely eliminate the international population assistance program by leaving the program out of the budget. It is apparently complying with the Vatican request to “protect the public morality” by censoring demographic information. Only one month later, Population Today reported the following:
“Demographic trends of the last two decades have greatly influenced major institutions in American society and have caused significant changes in public policies…. Future trends will be at least as influential.”
That quotation comes not from some data-making guru but from a Reagan administration report—one that the public will not see. Prepared last fall, the internal study was written for the Cabinet Council of Economic Affairs—one of about ten such groups of cabinet secretaries that meet on a frequent basis to consider future national policy.
Though their study was made for internal consumption only and is unobtainable, the Washington Post typically gained access to a copy and in January published excerpts that make intriguing reading….
How does the Vatican influence U.S. policy? In hundreds of ways. Most important in creating many of these opportunities is the Church’s almost unimaginable wealth. Recently Luigi Di Fonzo, a Harvard professor, published an extensive study of Vatican wealth. “The Vatican’s total assets—not including the assets of the Roman Catholic Church, but including stock it controls on the New York and American stock exchanges, and property, gold reserves, and paintings—are probably $50 billion to $60 billion…. The Catholic Church in the United States, with “assets of more than $100 billion, today possesses more than ten times the combined wealth of IBM, Exxon, General Motors, and U.S. Steel.” There is no accountability for these funds to anyone except the Vatican. Everything is done in complete secrecy. It is simply mind-boggling to see Vatican claims of compassion for the poverty-stricken in Latin America in the face of this fantastic accumulation of wealth.