With cruel, albeit unconscious, irony, the Economist runs a story under the headline Good trash, How television and radio shows can improve behaviour about the work of the Population Media Centre (PMC). The story begins by explaining how radio drama has been used by PMC to influence people in Papua New Guinea on environmental issues.
Warming to its theme, it continues:
"Evidence that radio and television soaps can change behaviour was first spotted in the 1970s. But solid academic research was lacking until a few years ago. In 2008 economists at the Inter-American Development Bank, for instance, found that Brazilians receiving Globo, a television network, had fewer children and got divorced more often. Another study discovered that, as cable television spread, the fertility rate in rural India dropped by as much as if women had received five additional years of education.Now reflect on the prophetic words of Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae:
"Some thought that this was because couch potatoes were less likely to make babies. But research in Ethiopia showed that dramas can have a direct effect. Demand for contraceptives rose by 157% among married women who listened to the soap operas "Yeken Kignet" and "Dhimbibba" ...
“ ... The best results are when people identify with characters,” says Betty Oala of the PMC. This is why the organisation does extensive research, takes on local writers and uses native languages."
"Finally, careful consideration should be given to the danger of this power [the use of contraceptive methods of birth control] passing into the hands of those public authorities who care little for the precepts of the moral law. Who will blame a government which in its attempt to resolve the problems affecting an entire country resorts to the same measures as are regarded as lawful by married people in the solution of a particular family difficulty? Who will prevent public authorities from favoring those contraceptive methods which they consider more effective? Should they regard this as necessary, they may even impose their use on everyone. It could well happen, therefore, that when people, either individually or in family or social life, experience the inherent difficulties of the divine law and are determined to avoid them, they may give into the hands of public authorities the power to intervene in the most personal and intimate responsibility of husband and wife ...And remember too the words of Pope John Paul II in Evangelium Vitae:
" ... And now We wish to speak to rulers of nations. To you most of all is committed the responsibility of safeguarding the common good. You can contribute so much to the preservation of morals. We beg of you, never allow the morals of your peoples to be undermined ... "
"The close connection which exists, in mentality, between the practice of contraception and that of abortion is becoming increasingly obvious. It is being demonstrated in an alarming way by the development of chemical products, intrauterine devices and vaccines which, distributed with the same ease as contraceptives, really act as abortifacients in the very early stages of the development of the life of the new human being."How tragic it is that, since 1971, Vatican officials have put in place an unofficial policy through the Washington case (about which I spoke towards the end of my talk in Saragossa) which has effectively denied unborn children as well as families throughout the world - Catholic and non-Catholic - the protection of the fullness of the teaching of the Church as set out in Humanae Vitae and Evangelium Vitae.
The story in this week's Economist is one more illustration as to how the whole world is suffering from the culture of death, including Vatican politics which has done so much to stifle the prophetic voice of the Catholic church on the use and promotion of artificial birth control.
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