Vice President Al Gore called on the Vatican on Thursday to move beyond the debate over abortion to join the United States in trying to stabilize world population by improving health and social conditions.
He said Roman Catholic organizations around the world already were trying to better the lot of women and children, working side by side with groups that disseminate birth control, even while holding to the Catholic opposition to contraception.
The United States believes that improving the status and education of women and reducing child mortality are "just as important" as family planning services in stabilizing populations, Gore told a forum on population.
"No organization has been more effective in addressing illiteracy and social injustice and child and infant mortality than has the Catholic Church," he said.
The Vatican has strongly criticized U.S. efforts to broaden availability of family planning services and abortion as part of an international conference on population set for September in Egypt.
In lieu of "confrontation and struggle" over abortion, Gore called for "ways to communicate and …