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John C. Schwarz: Global Population from a Catholic Perspective (Mystic, CT: Twenty-third Publications, 1998, Pp. v, 256. $19.95.)
The Catholic Church is officially opposed to all artificial (as opposed to natural family planning) methods of contraception. Given contemporary realities (e.g., AIDS, teen pregnancy) most non-Catholics find the Church's opposition to artificial birth control extremely puzzling. Why does the Church allow itself to get so completely out of step with contemporary thinking, one might ask? Traditionalists claim that the Church, as guardian of eternal truths, ought to be extremely skeptical of calls for change. Reformers see in the glacial pace of change in the Church the seeds of irrelevance and sometimes evidence of oppression.
The Church's position on birth control is not unrelated to its stands on other issues involving sexuality and gender (e.g., premarital sex, abortion, homosexuality, ordination of women). Some see the Church's united front on sexuality and gender issues as the Achilles heel of the Church's moral authority. For example, S. K. Andrews claims, "If birth control is accepted by the Vatican to be a legitimate response to the problem of overpopulation, then the Vatican is …