Chalker at odds with the Vatican: Tension over population meeting

THE Minister for Overseas Development, Baroness Chalker, yesterday made a veiled attack on the Vatican for trying to water down the text of an international declaration on global population.

It is understood that the Vatican is using its privileged status as a sovereign state to influence the wording of the declaration from the United Nations conference on population to be held in Cairo this September.

The Vatican is bitterly opposed to any UN declaration that will encourage contraception or abortion.

'I understand the position that the Catholic Church, for example, takes on what they describe as artificial methods of birth control. But by the same token, no single group should seek to prevent the Cairo declaration and action plan reflecting the majority view on the importance of everyone having access to adequate reproductive health care,' Lady Chalker told a meeting of population experts in London.

'I have never criticised the Vatican or the Pope. They are perfectly entitled to their views. But I do hope that the Roman Catholic Church in advocating family responsibility will make sure that it gives some help to Roman Catholic couples who want to space their children,' she said.

'I know from too many Catholic missionaries, in Africa particularly, of how torn they are by the Holy Father's teaching and their need to help women who become very borne down by pregnancy after pregnancy.

'Whilst I shan't convince the Vatican, I can at least say let us respect one another's methods, let us not tell other people what to do - we have never sought to do that.'

Lady Chalker will meet Vatican officials next week to try to resolve the issues that are hampering an agreement on the Cairo declaration. 'The block is that there are people in the Vatican who believe that no contraception would ever be right.' In previous meetings, she said, Vatican officials have insisted on calling contraceptives 'alien chemical devices'.

Demographers believe the UN population conference, which is held every 10 years, may be the last opportunity to take concerted international action to try to stabilise the world's population before the end of the next century.

They believe that the 'best case' scenario is for average fertility to decrease with the help of contraception to 1.7 children a woman, which would mean population growth would peak at 7.8 billion, about 1.5 billion more than now, before levelling off at the end of the next century.

The worst-case scenario is for fertility to decline to no more than 2.5 children a woman, leading to a population growth to 19 billion by the year 2100, and to 28 billion by 2150.

Leading article, page 13

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the world's leading suppliers and manuf...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: We require a teacher of Science in this com...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider of waste ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Representative

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To promote and sell the Company...

Day In a Page

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea