The Religious Consultation on Population, Reproductive Health & Ethics



  quietly revolutionary recent book has received too little notice. GLOBAL POPULATION FROM A CATHOLIC PERSPECTIVE by John C. Schwarz, Twenty-Third Publications, 1998. The book is a gentle and effective demurral on current hierarchical teaching on contraception and on abortion. His argument is that just as Catholic thought argues against war but allows exceptions through the "just war theory," this same openness to exceptions should apply to abortions, a kind of just abortion theory. He quotes approvingly Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister: "What is a woman to think: than when life is in the hands of a woman, then to destroy it is always morally wrong, never to be condoned, always a grave and universal evil? But when lie is in the hands of men, millions of lives at one time, all life at one time, then destruction can be theologized and some people's needs and lives can be made more important than other people's needs and lives."

   What is noteworthy and indicative of how lonely the Catholic hierarchy are becoming on these issues is the positive response to his book from priest theologians like the Jesuit Georgetown University Professor Robert Drinan. Drinan, the former congressman, calls the book "indispensable reading for everyone concerned with the exploding population of the global village." Priest theologians like Charles E. Curran, Francis X. Murphy, C.SS.R. and Anthony J. Gittins, C.S.Sp praise his "clear and convincing" arguments. Schwarz writes very much from within the Catholic Church, quoting archbishops and Catholic men and women theologians to support his case.

   This book shows the fallacy of speaking of "the" Catholic position on contraception and abortion. Pro-choice positions on contraception and abortion are very much at home in the Catholic tradition. This book is a good companion to A BRIEF, LIBERAL, CATHOLIC DEFENSE OF ABORTION, by the Catholic scholars Daniel Dombrowski and Robert Deltete of the Jesuit Seattle University. (University of Illinois Press, 2000). See also SACRED CHOICES: THE RIGHT TO CONTRACEPTION AND ABORTION IN TEN WORLD RELIGIONS by Daniel C. Maguire (Fortress Press, 2001).