Latin American Intellectuals and the Population Problem
Until very recently, North Americans tended to regard as unrealistic any suggestion of direct attack by Latin America on its population problem. The Catholic Church was viewed as the major stumbling block, due to the combination of its presumed hold over the consciences of 95 percent of Latin Americans, and its intransigence on the issue of population control. As it turns out, neither assumption had much validity. As we shall see, an increasing number of sample surveys in Latin American countries disclose that the average woman wants a moderate sized family, approves generally of family planning, and is little influenced by Church teaching on these topics. Further, the Church itself has shown increasing concern about the population problem and a willingness to discuss the morality of family planning. Indeed, the Church has had neither the need nor the inclination to do battle on this issue in Latin America, since most intellectuals were already opposed to population control for totally secular reasons. While clerical interest will do much to open up discussion of what a recent Visión editorial refers to as "the great tabu of our time," it will do little more; for the main opposition to population control, as opposed to family planning, continues to stem from Marxists, and from nationalists of the left and right.
An understanding of the viewpoints of these intellectuals is important both to avoid an excess of optimism over a possible liberalization of the Catholic position, and to give an apprecia-