The Vatican’s sabotage of efforts to address population growth

By Stephen D. Mumford, DrPH | 25 March 2017
Church and State

(Credit: Donatas Dabravolskas /

This excerpt has been adapted 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 to read for free here.

In an act that potentially has major national security and foreign policy implications, the Catholic hierarchy presented to the White House on January 22, 1984, a demand for the elimination of all family planning funds for Central America in the administration’s five-year $8 billion legislative proposal developed from the so-called Kissinger Commission. The administration did not honor that demand, and now the Catholic American Life Lobby has written to the House Foreign Affairs Committee, stating that it will lobby against the Central American legislative package in its entirety if it includes population aid.[61]

It is ironic that this act by the hierarchy would concern the nation of El Salvador. Consider the fact that the Soccer War between El Salvador and neighboring Honduras in 1969 was formally attributed by the Organization of American States to Salvadoran migrants being pushed into Honduras by El Salvador’s skyrocketing population—the first time population pressure received official mention as a cause of war. At that time, it had a population of less than four million. In six­teen years from now—the year 2000—the projected population is nine million, more than doubling in the thirty-one-year period.[62] For El Salvador, its own population growth is its own greatest national securi­ty threat. Is the Catholic hierarchy concerned about the security of the Salvadoran people? Obviously not! Is the hierarchy concerned about the threat to our security imposed by El Salvador’s insecurity? Obviously not! The survival of the Vatican and the advances of its power are its main concerns.

In its most important foreign policy manipulation of all, the Vatican is successfully blocking consideration of the reality that popu­lation growth is the most serious threat to the security of all nations. For fiscal year 1985, the Reagan administration is requesting a 4.8 per­cent increase in development aid, including population assistance, while asking Congress for a 240 percent increase in military aid financ­ing.[63] This in addition to the budget in fiscal year 1984, which had a $9.2 billion worldwide military assistance program juxtaposed to a $212 million population assistance program—a fifty-fold difference![64]

In 1979 and 1980, under President Carter, the National Security Council (NSC) published results of their studies which concluded that world population growth seriously threatened this country’s security. With the arrival of the Reagan administration, however, this new reality was rejected outright and in a most frightening way. During Richard Allen’s tenure as national security advisor, the hierarchy launched a letter-writing campaign directed at the national security advisor. Hundreds of letters from Catholics all over the country informed him that the senders believed the Council had erred in con­cluding that world population growth was a serious security threat to the United States and asked the council to reconsider its position. However, before this initiative could be completed, Allen was forced to resign. William Clark then became the national security advisor. Not long after joining the staff, Clark walked into a NSC meeting with a bundle of these letters under his arm. He commented that Ameri­cans all over the country believe that the NSC made an error in deem­ing world population growth a serious security threat. Clark offered the bundle of letters as evidence. Then he said, “We are here today to begin correcting this error.” I learned of this from someone well known to me who sits on the Council and who was stunned by this action.

This is probably the most devastating act of interference in government policy formulation committed by the Church during the Reagan administration. It brought to a halt all discussions by the NSC of population growth as a security threat, seriously undermining the security of all Americans.

The Vatican, through the Reagan administration, succeeded in negating the Carter NSC position on population growth and national security on May 30, 1984, when the NSC sent out to a number of agencies the working draft of the U.S. statement presented at the U.N. Conference on Population in Mexico City. This said, in effect, that there is no world population problem.[65] By choosing the NSC to circulate this draft, which otherwise made absolutely no sense, the administration reversed the NSC position on population growth as a security threat without debate. It was exceedingly important to the Vatican that this action be completed; without such a statement, it would have been obvious to everyone that the Vatican is a serious threat to U.S. security.

In contrast to the U.S. government’s radical shift to the Vatican position on population growth, United Nations Fund for Population Activities Director Rafael M. Salas stated in his opening remarks in no uncertain terms that world population growth has serious implications for global security. This theme was repeated many times throughout the conference by governments which are apparently less under the control of the Vatican.[66]

At the Mexico City meeting, James Buckley reiterated that the United States no longer would contribute funds to private organiza­tions that “perform or actively promote” abortion as a means of family planning and that it would require assurances from governments to which it sends funds that its aid would not be used for abortions.[67] In effect, the U.S. Agency for International Development is being used as an instrument of Vatican foreign policy.

Of the 149 states represented at the Mexico City meeting, only the Vatican, Costa Rica, and Chile voiced their support for the Ameri­can position! As Newsweek magazine pointed out, “If the administra­tion continues to put its money where its mouth is, the international consensus on population control could yet be shattered,”[68] the Vatican’s openly professed goal. The Vatican could never accomplish this goal without using the United States government as an instru­ment of Vatican foreign policy.

[61] Planned Parenthood-World Population Washington Memo, “Demands from Antiabortion Leaders” (February 29, 1984), p. 3.
[62] Federation for American Immigration Reform, “Understanding El Salvador” (1984), 4:6:2.
[63] Planned Parenthood-World Population Washington Memo, “Foreign Aid Politics a Major Factor” (February 8, 1984), p. 3.
[64] United Press International, “U.S. Plans to Boost Military Aid to Turkey,” Raleigh News and Observer (February 5, 1982), p. 3A.
[65] “Pro-Abortion Population Programs Targeted,” Chapel Hill Newspaper (June 18, 1984), p. lA.
[66] “U.N. Population Conference Opens With Strong Warnings,” Raleigh News and Observer (August 7, 1984), p. 3.
[67] R. J. Meislin, “Free Economies Help Lower Birth Rates, U.S. Envoy Tells Population Conference,” Raleigh News and Observer (August 9, 1984), p. lA.
[68] R. Watson, J. Contreras, J. Harmes, and P. Chin, “Population Trading Places,” Newsweek (August 20, 1984), p. 50.

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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  1. As a retired biology teacher I look at the overpopulation scourge with horror. People living with superstitious delusions are determining, and dooming, the entire future not only of humanity, but the entire world. Their God-inspired sacred book states that the Earth is the center of the universe. How idiotic can they get, yet they continue to wield unbridled power. They refuse to accept humanity as a product of nature. The only thing they know for sure is that vast numbers of brain washed followers increase their power and sense of importance.

  2. As to the Vatican, I suggest reading Christopher Hitchens. He deals with religious delirium better than anybody else.


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