Your Holiness, John Paul II:
Convinced that a fully responsible stewardship of our planet requires that we control the increasingly rapid growth of our population, and that the knowledge and use of effective contraceptives is a proven means to that end, I deplore your opposition to these as both wrong and directly contrary to what would clearly benefit humanity at this time in our history.
By contrast, the public position of most Buddhists strikes me as ethical. Buddhist monks in Southeast and East Asia have openly supported programs to implement the responsible control of human birth and held that the use of contraceptive devices was not immoral and ought, in fact, to be encouraged.
|No Babies in Business Class, Please |
A rabbi and father of seven responds to fertility cops
Wanted by the Fertility Police
A Catholic mom copes with public scolds
"Be Fruitful and Multiply"
Command or blessing?
Many Buddhists will agree with some of the concerns you express in Evangelium Vitae--and join you in wishing to ask serious moral questions. They will agree fully that the gross disparity between the fabulously wealthy and the abysmally poor in our world must be deplored--and remediated. A major disagreement, however, will come over contraception. And that occurs, I suggest here, because Buddhism--perhaps uniquely among what are sometimes called the "world religions"--either explicitly or implicitly rejects what I have elsewhere called "fecundism," which may be defined most simply as the positing of links between reproductive success and religious value. It consists of defining the tribe's god or gods as mandating, or at least blessing, demographic expansion; the deity is depicted as rewarding piety with progeny. Fecundism has the god or gods as bedside cheerleaders, telling people that the deity's own deep wish is that his or her select people multiply in the greatest possible numbers.
Read the unabridged letter for further analysis of Evangelium Vitae's statements on ecology and human reproduction.