Celebrate life

  • November 2, 2011

The birth of a baby should always be a celebration of God’s will being done. But much of the joy accompanying the arrival of tiny Danica May Camacho on Oct. 31 was offset by joyless fretting about the future of the planet.

Danica May, born in Manila, was one of several babies symbolically presented to the world on Halloween as the planet’s population reached seven billion, according to the United Nations Population Fund. She was the second child born to Catholic parents who subsist on the meagre salary of a Filipino bus driver. Naturally, they were delighted to welcome a new baby into their family.

Around the world, however, the notion of sharing the planet among seven billion people energized the world’s doomsayers. These legions, mainly living comfortably in developed nations, wondered aloud about bringing more hungry mouths into a world already rife with poverty.

Their’s is a cynical world view that often seems fueled by a regrettable me-first mentality. They warn that more babies will result in more hunger and disease, more pollution, more depletion of natural resources and more demand for foreign aid. For the most part, the loudest cries come from nations where ownership of wealth and consumption of resources is outrageously disproportionate to their populations.

Their fight against poverty is aimed at Africa, Asia and Latin America, often in the promotion of  programs to reduce births through contraception, abortion and, sometimes, forced sterilization. Nourishing this elitism is the unspoken sentiment that poor lives have less value than the rich because the poor can make no material contribution to society. This type of thinking ignited demands, rejected by Stephen Harper, to include abortion in the maternal health program Harper championed at the G8 and G20 summits a year ago.

It’s a sad reflection on society that the birth of Danica May is being used by some to advocate for population control, primarily targeting the poor.  A Christian response to population growth is to demand that society pay more than lip service to poverty, inequality, health care, education and international development, and sponsor programs to lift the underprivileged from their desperation. The proper response to the challenges created by a more crowded planet is not to decry the births of babies but to answer mankind’s responsibility to help care for these poor souls.

In his 2009 encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI posed that if society regards a new baby as a problem, how can it feel empathy for the poor? He lamented that the anti-life mentality common in prosperous nations is mirrored by widespread indifference for the suffering of the poor. Alleviating that suffering requires an attack on the institutional, material and cultural roots of poverty.

But it must all begin with a renewal of respect for all life.

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