The Catholic Church and Social Justice Issues

By Stephen D. Mumford, DrPH | 14 March 2012
Church and State

(Credit: giulio napolitano /

This chapter from our Chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford’s book, American Democracy and the Vatican: Population Growth and National Security (1984) discusses the sources and current threats to the power of the Church and some of the bold actions the Vatican has taken to counter these threats. The book is available at Kindle here and to read for free here.

Chapter 4: The Catholic Church and Social Justice Issues

Numerous books have been written by both Catholic clergy and lay­-persons charging that the Vatican and Catholic hierarchy in general concern themselves too much with dominance and too little with social justice, that struggle for and retention of power enjoys the highest priority, and that positive stands on social justice are taken only when they are expedient and do not threaten the equilibrium of the Church. Among these Catholic critics are writers such as Malachi Martin,[1] Andrew Greeley,[2] and Jean-Guy Vaillancourt.[3] This preoccu­pation with power has serious implications for non-Catholics as well, regarding some of the most sensitive and important social issues of our day. They include the Equal Rights Amendment, the environmental movement, legalized abortion, family planning and population growth control, and illegal immigration control. This chapter discusses the sources and current threats to the power of the Church and some of the bold actions the Vatican has taken to counter these threats.

The past few years have been very active for the Roman Catholic Church in America, and, as time passes, its activities have become less thinly veiled and its intentions more evident. Particularly since the Pastoral Plan of Action of November 1975, the Catholic Church has placed in gear its formidable political machinery. Although American bishops said that this plan for political mobilization was designed in response to the legalization of abortion, astute observers now recognize that abortion was simply an excuse for the American Church to mobilize politically.

At the 1975 annual meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops at which the Bishops’ Pastoral Plan for Pro-Life Activities (often referred to as the Pastoral Plan of Action) was an­nounced, then Archbishop Joseph Bemardine of Cincinnati told the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops that “the will of God and the law of reason” demand an unrelenting fight against abortion. This “will of God and law of reason” justified, in the Church’s eyes, the implemen­tation of the Pastoral Plan of Action and what the influential National Catholic Reporter, a lay-edited weekly, referred to as the creation of a new political party, an American Catholic Party.[4]

Sources of Power

The Roman Catholic Church is an organization whose influence exceeds that of most governments of the world. How did the Church arrive at this position? What are its principal sources of power?

First, the Church establishment is an absolute monarchy. In this highly autocratic situation, the chain of command is well defined, and all in positions of authority are absolutely responsive to their superiors. When the pope speaks, his subordinates listen—at least through the rank of priest. Anyone who steps out of line is quickly dealt with, usually very quietly. Father Drinan and Hans Kung are examples. Unquestioning loyalty to the monarch who sits on St. Peter’s throne is demanded and received.

Second is the claim of infallibility, a rather recent invention, first proposed in the early 1880s. For centuries, the Church had maintained considerable temporal power. About this time it became apparent to the Vatican that it was about to lose all of its temporal power, so it struck upon this idea of infallibility—its new source of power.

Third is the ever-present threat of excommunication: a person may be excluded from entering heaven by declaration of the pope. Bishops and priests also possess this power as they can recommend excommunication to the pope. This is probably the most powerful social engineering weapon ever devised by humankind. For the true believer, there is absolutely nothing worse than excommunication, not even death. Such a ruthless weapon says much about the nature of the relationship of the hierarchy to the communicant.

The fourth is indoctrination, which is fundamental to control over the laity. It is this source of power that the Church sees seriously threatened by numerous efforts to improve the quality of life, such as

1. democracy in general
2. the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)
3. legalized abortion
4. the family-planning movement
5. the control of illegal immigration
6. the protection of the environment
7. the Global 2000 Report[5]

Each of these thrusts threaten the power of the Church by undermin­ing its carefully indoctrinated authority. Certain tenets have been persistently inculcated during the process. If these tenets are undermined by civil law instituted by temporal authorities, then the authori­ty of the Church itself is undermined and, in the eyes of its followers, the power of the Church diminished.

The Social Justice Issues

True democracy is very threatening to the Church. As long as it can control the lawmakers, as it did when the Christian Democrats held sway in Italy for several decades, the Church has no problem with democracy. However, when a democratic government implements advances that tend to diminish influence of the hierarchy and thus weaken its hold on the populace—such as legalized abortion and equal rights for women—these actions can become very irritating. Further­more, a democratic political system encourages clergy and laypersons to demand a more democratic Church such as existed in the earliest years of the Church. These demands can be exasperating to a Church leadership that rules absolutely. Why should the Church share its power? Its success lies in the fact that it is the most monolithic organi­zation on earth.

The Church has found itself most effective in alliances with right-wing dictatorships. Being very conservative itself, it feels most at home with conservatives. Right-wing dictatorships and the Church coexist in a symbiotic relationship. The Church can deliver the control of the masses, and the right-wing governments permit the Church to conduct its business and its wishes, including ensuring the passage of laws which enhance its power.

Three popular modern movements—ERA, family planning, and legal abortion—all undermine Church authority and power by having as their ends the legalization and promotion of acts that completely counter the tenets with which the Church leadership has indoctri­nated its congregants.

The Equal Rights Amendment would, in effect, encourage women to seek out interests outside a role devoted to a lifetime of reproducing and rearing faithful Catholics. Most important, the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment by the secular will soon lead to demands by women belonging to Catholic religious orders to be recognized as first-class citizens. No longer would the Church have at its disposal a force of millions of docile and obedient nuns. Actions such as the recent suit filed against a bishop in New England would become commonplace. There would be unending challenges to the authority of the all-male leadership of the Church by these women. This prospect has undoubt­edly generated many nightmares for the occupants of the Vatican. Furthermore, calls for democracy within the Church would be strengthened. The ERA, therefore, seriously threatens the power of the leadership of the Catholic Church.

The Church has staked much of its authority on the issues of fami­ly planning and abortion. Initially, the Church took up these issues because it has always been highly pronatalist, believing that through numbers comes strength, and the greater the number of Catholics the better.

The Church’s claim that abortion and contraception are immoral continues to be eroded. What is moral is pretty much determined when a consensus is reached. Murder is immoral. There is a consensus. However, on the issues of abortion and contraception, America con­tinues to slowly move away from the Church’s position. A majority of Americans belong to religious groups that do not believe that abortion and family planning are immoral, including nearly all of the major Protestant groups. An intimate knowledge of the sex lives of individ­uals gained through confessionals gives priests considerable power over individuals, and ultimately this power is exercised by the Vatican. The celibate males of the Church have always given considerable attention to the sexual lives of their followers, and concern with family planning and abortion became natural concerns.

On these issues of abortion and family planning the Church went out on a limb, staking much of its authority on these two issues. It can­not lose on these two issues without seriously damaging its authority with subsequent substantial loss in power. Both the Vatican and its critics agree here. The Church cannot lose these two battles nor can it reverse its positions. The course is irrevocably set. The Catholic leadership persists on these two issues because its power and authority are at stake. Therefore, abortion and family planning are issues of power—principally Catholic power issues—not moral issues.

Environmental protection and the Global 2000 Report threaten the Church indirectly but nevertheless quite seriously. The basic thesis of the environmental movement, with its inherent premise of population stabilization based on the limitations of the land, is that, if one exceeds the carrying capacity of our ecosystem, an irreversible process is set in motion. Environmental degradation caused by excessive stress on the ecosystem continues to reduce the carrying capacity of the ecosystem until it approaches zero. Desertification is one ultimate result. If this premise is accepted, then it becomes obvious that population growth cannot continue as it has for long. Once this is recognized, changes in social mores and previously pronatalist attitudes will soon bring accept­ance of family planning and abortion by the Catholic laity. Thus, the environmental movement threatens the authority of the Church and therefore its power.

The Global 2000 Report was prepared by the most distinguished scientists in our government and is by far the best study of the earth as an ecosystem ever undertaken. I believe that it is unquestionably among the most important reports ever prepared by our government. It examines projections in twelve areas including world food supply, water supply, energy, minerals, and population growth. Although the findings are conservative and far too optimistic, it makes a powerful case by providing an enormous amount of evidence that the world is in deep trouble, that the ecosystem cannot hope to provide for the world’s rapidly expanding population. One of the firm conclusions is that population growth must be sharply curbed if we are to avoid a world in chaos. This means wide availability and use of family plan­ning and abortion. Thus, if the Global 2000 Report is recognized as truth, then family planning and abortion will be accepted as necessary for survival. Thus the Global 2000 movement threatens the Church.

Another threat to the Church is the illegal immigration control movement. If this movement succeeds, and what is perceived by Latin Americans and other governments as an escape valve is shut off, these governments would logically say, “Our demographic course cannot continue.” These governments would have little choice but to con­front the Church and say, “If we are to survive as governments, then we must get serious about population growth control. Otherwise, we in Latin America are destined to become a sea of chaos. We, as Latin Americans, must make family planning and abortion services fully available and encourage their use.” Turning off the valve to illegal immigration is therefore a serious threat to the power of the Church.

This movement threatens the Church in another way. The charge is that the Vatican strongly desires to see a Catholic majority in America so that the Vatican can exercise much greater, if not com­plete, control over the American democratic process, in the same way that the Vatican controlled the government of Italy for decades through the Christian Democratic Party. Many authors have advanced this idea. I have read this charge time and again over the past decade or so, and, until recently, I thought the idea ridiculous. But after observing the Church’s bold and thinly veiled actions in the Reagan Administration, I now believe these authors are probably describing reality. If 150 million Latin Americans legally and illegally migrate to the United States in the next twenty to thirty years, this apparent goal can be achieved. And, as I discussed at length in chapter two,[6] these numbers are demonstrably not farfetched.

The Reagan Administration is clearly being manipulated by the Catholic Church, apparently with the president’s blessing. In an April 1982 speech before the National Catholic Education Association, Reagan made the incredible statement, “I am grateful for your help in shaping American policy to reflect God’s will…. And I will look forward to further guidance from His Holiness Pope John Paul II during an audience I will have with him in June.”[7] Mr. Reagan is obvious­ly leaning on the Vatican for a lot of help, and he’s getting it—much of it not in the best interest of the United States.

If the United States government shows no more willingness to deal with illegal immigration than has been shown by the Reagan Administration, then a migration from Latin America of the magnitude described above is certainly imminent. A Catholic majority in the United States and Vatican control of our government would greatly enhance the power of the Church not only in this country but worldwide.

The Abortion Movement

In 1980, Federal Judge John Dooling, United States District Court, Eastern District of New York, declared that the Hyde Amendment, which prevented Medicaid payment for abortion, was unconstitu­tional. (Copies of Judge Dooling’s 328-page decision in McRae vs. HEW are rare. During a recent conversation with the Brooklyn United States District Court, I was told that their copy had disap­peared and, for this reason, they were not in a position to reproduce it.) Judge Dooling had spent a year gathering evidence and studying the anti-abortion movement, and his findings showed that the anti-abortion movement was essentially a Roman Catholic movement with a little non-Catholic window dressing.[8] The amendment, says Dooling bluntly, was a ploy by anti-abortion congressmen frustrated in their attempt to pass a constitutional amendment that would override the Supreme Court’s 1973 pro-abortion decision; its purpose was quite simply to circumvent the Court’s ruling and prevent as many abortions as possible. Dooling, a practicing Catholic, makes short shrift of the anti-abortionists’ pretensions to be a spontaneous grass-roots move­ment that owes its political victories to sheer moral appeal. He confirms that the right-to-life’s main source of energy, organization, and direction has been the Catholic Church, and he describes in detail how the movement uses one-issue voting to put pressure on legislators, candidates, and the party organizations that nominate them—a tactic that gains influence far out of proportion to its numbers. Please see appendix one for excerpts from Judge Dooling’s decision in McRae vs. HEW.

What is most significant in this extract is Judge Dooling’s finding that the anti-abortion movement’s main source of energy, organization, and direction has been the Catholic Church. The bishops’ Pastoral Plan prompted the creation of the Moral Majority. Richard A. Viguerie, a Catholic, is the man most responsible for the development and success of the New Right, and he will be the first to claim that honor. He was also involved in the original discussions that led to the creation of the Moral Majority and, as its fundraiser, can be credited with its financial success. Paul Weyrich, a Catholic, claims credit for originating the idea for the group and the name itself. In their search for an attractive front man for the organization, they chose Jerry Falwell, who, accord­ing to intimates, has an insatiable lust for power—and, thus, Moral Majority, Inc., was born.[9]

It is inconceivable that these Catholic laymen were not respond­ing to the bishops’ Pastoral Plan. Much went into avoiding public disclosure of the role of the Catholic Church in the creation of the Moral Majority. Maxine Negri, in “A Well-Planned Conspiracy,” ex­posed involvement of the Catholic hierarchy in the Moral Majority.[10] Then, the June 21, 1982, issue of U.S. News and World Report noted:

At the heart of Moral Majority is a direct-mail operation…. Membership claims … put the number of Moral Majority’s active supporters at roughly 4 million Roman Catholics, Protes­tant fundamentalists, and orthodox Jews. The organization says its “hardcore contributors,” numbered at more than 400,000, include a cadre of 80,000 priests, ministers, and rabbis organized into fifty autonomous chapters.

This claim of autonomy should not be taken seriously. What is described here is exactly the organization described in the Pastoral Plan of Action down to the details.

None of us who has ever worked extensively with fundamentalist churches or lived among fundamentalists ever took the claim that the Moral Majority was a fundamentalist organization seriously. One char­acteristic common among fundamentalists is a keen sense of individ­ualism, and individualists are often fundamentalists because of this trait. There is self-selection. They strongly resist the “herding” that characterizes other major denominations such as the Catholic Church. It is very difficult to organize two or three local fundamentalist churches to carry out even a local short-term civic activity. Organizing much beyond this is inconceivable. In contrast, the Catholic Church, with its keen sense of organization acquired over a two-thousand-year history, found the “organization” of the fundamentalists a relatively simple task by providing with few exceptions the entire organization infrastructure, including the organization of the fifty autonomous state chapters and the organizations in the 435 congressional districts.

The far more experienced and autocratic Catholic Church found the fundamentalists easy prey. They created “leader” Jerry Falwell and they sought out for other visible positions others who also had an insatiable lust for power. These fundamentalists tow the line of the Catholic Church to maintain their newly acquired visibility and their sense of power. And, of course, the purse strings of the Moral Majority are controlled by those who collect the money—represented by Richard Viguerie. As the old adage goes, “he who controls the purse strings, controls the organization.”

The Family-Planning Movement

There is little doubt that virtually all opposition to the family-planning movement is Roman Catholic. The anti-family-planning movement’s main source of energy, organization, and direction clearly has been the Roman Catholic Church. Most people outside the family-planning field are not aware that this anti-family-planning movement continues to score major victories, such as preventing the U.S. sale of Depo-Provera, the birth-control injectable given every three months, a method which all available data indicate is safer than birth control pills. Depo-Provera is used by tens of millions of women around the world and is now approved by over one hundred countries, including most European countries, WHO, and other prestigious groups. Other victories include successfully laying roadblocks that prevent tens of thousands of women from receiving sterilization operations when they want them, roadblocks which result in thousands of unwanted births yearly. Far more important are the successes of the Church in mini­mizing U.S. assistance to family-planning efforts in developing coun­tries.

Many of these victories for the Church come under the heading “Administrative Areas” in the bishops’ Pastoral Plan of Action. Two recent examples of Catholic Church activity are the mandatory notifi­cation of parents of teens who seek contraceptives at federally funded clinics and the banning of federal funds for family-planning clinics which provide abortion.

The ERA Movement

The Equal Rights Amendment died June 30, 1982. I am certain that its failure was the result of the success of the Catholic hierarchy’s bold efforts to defeat it. As with the anti-abortion movement, the main source of energy, organization, and direction of the anti-ERA move­ment is the Roman Catholic Church.

In June 1978, I received a Planned Parenthood Washington Memo which contained an article entitled “U.S. Bishops Block Pro-ERA Statement.” In part, it read:

The Roman Catholic hierarchy, in early May, refused to permit issuance of a subcommittee’s statement supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, indicating that the fight against legal abor­tion takes precedence as its preeminent concern.

The pro-ERA statement was supported by the bishops’ six-member Ad Hoc Committee on Women in the Church and Society, which took pains to separate support for ERA from any connotation of accepting abortion. Furthermore, they sought only to issue the statement in their own behalf and had reportedly consulted with the Family Life section of the bishops’ Depart­ment of Education, which apparently approved their conclusions “that the ERA will not threaten the stability of marriage in family life.”

According to a report of the National Catholic News Service, acceptance of the statement had been urged by ninety-four employees of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the U.S. Catholic Conference, but advance disclosures about the issue also generated heavy mail from the “right to life” groups op­posing the ERA. The NCCB’s forty-eight-member administrative board, which sets policy for the 345 U.S. Roman Catholic bishops, rejected the pro-ERA document during an early May meeting in Chicago, contending that it could hurt anti-abortion efforts.

It is now apparent that this move by the bishops was a brilliant ploy. The Church not only evaded taking a positive stand on an important social justice issue which threatens its power but it has worked diligently to defeat the ERA by using the very same political action organization used to combat abortion!

In my home state of North Carolina, one of the last hopes of the ERA movement, we saw statewide polls in May 1982 show that two-thirds of our citizens favored the amendment, and, in June 1982, we saw two-thirds of our lawmakers vote to defeat it. Clearly, a vast superior organization killed the ERA in North Carolina, a finely honed and skillful operation, one two thousand years in the making—the same one continuing to fight legalized abortions in our fair state.

Actions Taken by the Church

What actions has the hierarchy taken to counter the abortion, family-planning, and ERA movements?

In 1980, Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, a Canadian Roman Catholic pro­fessor of sociology at the University of Montreal, published a book entitled Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites.[11] This is a study of the techniques intensively used by the Vati­can in many countries to control Catholic laypersons in Italy over the past one hundred years. In 1875, the Vatican created a system of local parish committees of at least five members each, called Catholic Actions. These committees were created to organize laypersons to assist the Vatican in seizing control of local, state, and national politi­cal machinery. Over the years, the Church gained considerable experience in organizing these committees and in ensuring obedience and a very high degree of responsiveness to the chain of command by the committees. These committees and their more recent counterpart, civic committees, are highly effective in mobilizing Vatican efforts. Vaillancourt places the role of the committees in proper perspective by discussing

a famous open letter presented to the Pope in 1968 by dissatisfied Catholics from France and elsewhere. The letter severely criti­cized the Vatican’s excessive attachment to wealth and power, stressing the idea that Church authorities are too repressive and manipulative:

The whole Church apparatus is organized for control: the Roman Curia controls the bishops, the bishops the clergy, the clergy controls the laity … and the lay Christians control (what an illusion!) mankind. Hence a multiplication of secretaries, commissions, structures, etc., with their programs and rules…. Underhand influences have suffocated the openness which had manifested itself at the lay conference in Rome, a congress which had very little communication with the bishops who were then meeting in a synod.

After this attack on the abuses of social and legal power by church authorities, the letter goes on to describe three of the favorite techniques of control used by the Vatican: secrecy (there are secret files even against bishops), spying and informing, and repression (used even against some of the most respected theolo­gians).

Secrecy can be classified as either a legal or a social method of control, depending on whether it is used as an administrative-legal procedure or as a simple social defense mechanism. Spying and informing would clearly be instances of social power, since they entail the use of social processes. Finally, repression, as discussed in the open letter, refers to a mixture of legal, coercive, and even remunerative power. Concretely, it includes the habit­ual recourse by Church officials to excommunications, censures, condemnations, demotions, and the removal or firing of offenders from their ecclesiastical jobs.

In researching Papal Power, Vaillancourt studied Vatican control over lay Catholic elites for years, spending a large part of his time at the Vatican. To effect this control, Vaillancourt has found that the Vatican exercises eight kinds of power—all of which have been used and have proved effective in opposing social issues in the United States.

ECOLOGICAL POWER, based on the physical control of material environmental conditions. An example of this is the use of terri­tory, buildings, or real estate to control people through the domination of their environment.

REMUNERATIVE POWER, based on material or nonmaterial rewards or compensations. An example of this is the way the Pius XII Foundation uses its funds to support some lay activities and not others.

COERCIVE POWER, based on physical or psychic violence. Examples of this are burning at the stake, torture, imprisonment, banishment, blackmail, removal from office, denouncement.

SOCIAL POWER, based on the use of structural-organizational or psycho-sociological mechanisms such as Catholic Action con­gresses, peer-group pressures, rumors, co-optation, social ostra­cism, socialization, use of mass media, nepotism, and selective recruitment. An example of social power is “conditioning.” …

LEGAL POWER, juridically founded, or simply based on bureau­cratic and administrative norms, procedures, and maneuvers. An example of this is the rule of secrecy which affects, under the pain of “grievous sin,” the affairs of the Secretariate of the Pope and the Council for the Public Affairs of the Church in their relations with Vatican diplomats and other high-ranking prelates. Another example is censorship, through the nihil obstat and imprimatur.

TRADITIONAL POWER, based on the use of traditional symbols, rituals, ideas, and sentiments. The cementing of loyalty through a mass of torch-lit procession during a congress would be an exam­ple of this kind of power. Appeals to practices (for example, speaking Latin) and documents popular or prevalent in previous times are also instances of the use of traditional power.

EXPERT POWER, based on professional, technical, or scientific or purely rational arguments. An example of this is the recourse to commissions of experts in theology or the social sciences to bolster one’s position. Pius XII’s speeches to numerous groups on a multitude of topics was also an effort to control through expert power.

CHARISMATIC POWER, based on exemplary or ethical prophe­cy. Examples of this are calls for social justice and equality (used extensively in recent years) or the giving away of some of the Church’s possessions for certain causes (for example, a ring in a Brazilian slum). In a less prophetic vein, the replacement of personal charisma of office and the routinization of charisma are other examples of the use of this kind of power.

The Vatican with one hundred years of experience in controlling nations through these lay Catholic organizations, has chosen to export this highly developed mechanism for control of lay Catholics and democratic processes to the United States. In 1975, the Church launched its Pastoral Plan of Action. The “committees” discussed in this plan are the same “committees” discussed by Vaillancourt that are used to control lay Catholics and to serve as political machinery. These “committees” which make up anti-abortion organizations are openly being used by the Vatican to manipulate the American demo­cratic process. This includes the Moral Majority organization, as unsus­pecting Protestants lend their support. For those who have figured out that they are being used, the lust for power or attention given them is enough to keep them in the fold.

The Pastoral Plan of Action was supposedly initiated by the Vatican because “the will of God and the law of reason” demanded an unrelenting fight against abortion. However, by 1978, it became apparent that the Vatican had simply seized upon a golden opportunity to mobilize Catholic America into a political party using its “right-to-life committees”—including the Moral Majority. Some observers began to recognize that these very same “committees” were being used to fight the other “enemies” of the Catholic Church: the ERA, family planning, the environmental movement, illegal immigration control, and support for the Global 2000 Report. I am now convinced that abor­tion was simply an excuse to politically mobilize the American Catho­lic Church and create, de facto, an American Catholic Political Party. The same techniques and tactics developed and used by the Church one hundred years ago to manipulate local, state, and national govern­ments on other continents are exactly the same techniques and tactics seen in America today!

In 1977, victory for the ERA movement seemed almost certain. Few Americans realize the fantastic amount of organization and mobilization of human resources, funds, and commitment it took on the part of the Vatican to turn apparent victory for the ERA into defeat. Phyllis Schlafly, a Catholic, and the “organization” she head­ed, got more help from the Vatican and the American bishops than most Americans can possibly imagine. Judge Dooling found the anti-abortionists’ claim that they were a grass-roots movement to be spuri­ous; the belief that the anti-ERA forces are also a grass-roots move­ment is ridiculous.

As serious observers study the opposition to the family-planning movement, the environmental movement, illegal immigration con­trol, and the Global 2000 Report, they recognize just how sophisticated the opposition is—the amount of energy, organization, and direction each has—and that the opposition is all the same people, the same committees.


This is not an abstract theory. Such organization has been effective in Italy and other countries and was described by Vaillancourt before it got underway in earnest in the United States. Until those of us who are concerned about these social justice issues are willing to confront the Catholic hierarchy, there will be no significant advances in these areas of social justice. So long as the Church can act “undercover,” it will continue to be effective in thwarting significant advances. Our willingness to permit the Church to act in secrecy in America vastly enhances its power. It is absolutely essential that our silence be shat­tered. If not, then no matter which of these causes is “our cause” it’s a lost cause. Just as important, the strength of a threatening Vatican-controlled political party in America will continue to grow. American Catholics who are seriously concerned about social justice must take the pope and the Vatican at their word when they say that they do not intend to change their course. Catholics must be aware that the pope and the Vatican are choosing their social justice issues very selectively. In the 1970s, Cardinal Leo Suenens proposed that the position of pope and the Vatican, as we know it, be eliminated and that four “mini-pope” positions be created; this is consistent with Catholic teachings. He insisted that this is feasible. Perhaps it is time for socially responsi­ble American Catholics to break the American Church away from the control of the Vatican. Otherwise, they as individuals stand to be accused of the same hypocrisy practiced by their Church hierarchy.


[1] Malachi Martin, The Final Conclave (Briarcliff Manor, NY: Stein and Day, 1978).
[2] Andrew M. Greeley, The Making of the Popes, 1978: The Politics of Intrigue in the Vatican (Kansas City: Andrews and McNeil, Inc., 1979).
[3] Jean-Guy Vaillancourt, Papal Power: A Study of Vatican Control Over Lay Catholic Elites (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1980).
[4] “U.S. Bishops Spark New Abortion Debate,” INTERCOM (1976), 4:1:13.
[5] Global 2000 Report to the President: Entering the Twenty-First Century, Vol. 1 (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980). 0-256-752.
[6] “Illegal Immigration, National Security, and the Church” first appeared in The Humanist (November/December 1981).
[7] A. Menendez, “Of Presidents and Popes,” Church and State (1982), 35:6:1.
[8] D. J. Dooling, decision in McRae vs. HEW, New York: U.S. District Court. See, Appendix 1 for a more complete extract from Judge Dooling’s decision.
[9] P. D. Young, “Richard A. Viguerie: The New Right’s Secret Power Broker,” Penthouse (December 1982), p. 146.
[10] Maxine Negri, “A Well-Planned Conspiracy,” The Humanist (May/June 1982), 42:3:40.
[11] Vaillancourt, Papal Power.

Dr. Stephen Mumford is the founder and President of the North Carolina-based Center for Research on Population and Security. He has his doctorate in Public Health. His principal research interest has been the relationship between world population growth and national and global security. He has been called to provide expert testimony before the U.S. Congress on the implications of world population growth.

Dr. Mumford has decades of international experience in fertility research where he is widely published, and has addressed conferences worldwide on new contraceptive technologies and the stresses to the security of families, societies and nations that are created by continued uncontrolled population growth. Using church policy documents and writings of the Vatican elite, he has introduced research showing the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church as the principal power behind efforts to block the availability of contraceptive services worldwide.

In addition to his books on biomedical and social aspects of family planning, as well as scientific articles in more than a score of journals, Dr. Mumford’s major works include American Democracy and the Vatican: Population Growth and National Security (Amherst, New York: Humanist Press, 1984), The Pope and the New Apocalypse: The Holy War Against Family Planning (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1986), and The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1996).

During the formative years of the World Health Organization (WHO), broad consensus existed among United Nations member countries that overpopulation is a grave public health threat and would be a major cause of preventable death not too far in the future. One of the founding fathers of the WHO, the late Milton P. Siegel, speaks to Dr. Mumford in 1992. He explains how the Vatican successfully stymied the incorporation of family planning and birth control into official WHO policy. This video is available for public viewing for the first time. Read the full transcript of the interview here.

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