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Saturday, November 28, 2015

Did Papa Francis Really Say This?

Pope Francis is in Africa this week, and the NYTimes reports on his speech in a Nairobi slum yesterday:
He lashed out against what he called “new forms of colonialism, which would make African countries parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel.”
Francis said that “countries are frequently pressured to adopt policies typical of the culture of waste, like those aimed at lowering the birthrate.”
He called the slums “wounds” inflicted by the elite. “How can I not denounce the injustices which you suffer?” he said.
There are few places more apt for Francis, who has cast himself as a champion of the world’s poor, to deliver such remarks. The slum he visited, Kangemi, on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, is a seemingly endless rusted-roof settlement where thousands of families cram into iron shacks with ripped mattresses on the floor and cockroaches scuttling in the unlit corners. Many here survive on a few dollars a day.
I've been in slums in Africa and they are, without question, places where lives need to be made better as soon as possible. But lowering the birth rate is a long-term solution to the problem, not an injustice. Indeed, most people would agree that denying women (and men) access to birth control is an injustice, not the other way around.


  1. Yes, I agree. I wonder the fuller context of what Papa was saying, because I thought for sure Francis is savvy enough to know that the high birth rates are related to low status of women and lack of determination over their family size. If you find out more, let me know. Thanks,

    Jim Merkel

    1. Sadly, he really did say this. Here is a link to the full text of his talk there in the Nairobi slum: