Pope Francis on Monday appointed the economist Jeffrey Sachs to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
The Holy See press office said on Oct. 25 that the pope had named Sachs as an “ordinary member” of the academy founded in 1994 by Pope John Paul II to promote the study and progress of the social sciences.
Sachs, the director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University in New York, has been a frequent visitor to the Vatican in recent years.
The 66-year-old was a featured speaker in at least six Vatican conferences in 2019-2020, lecturing on topics from education to ethics.
Sachs, who has served as an adviser to three United Nations secretaries-general, has advocated for a reduction in fertility rates in developing countries through the dissemination of contraception, a view at odds with Catholic teaching.
“Success at reducing high fertility rates depends on keeping girls in school, ensuring that children survive, and providing access to modern family planning and contraceptives,” he wrote in 2011.
CNA asked Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, about this statement in February 2020.
Sorondo responded that Sachs had made the comment in 2011. “Now he has changed,” the Argentine bishop said.
He explained that Sachs had featured with such frequency at Vatican conferences “because he integrates the magisterium of the Church and of Pope Francis into economics by putting the human person and the common good at the center.”
CNA asked Sachs in February 2020 how his advocacy for reducing fertility rates and contraception squared with Pope Francis’ sense of “integral human ecology,” and whether he believed it was right for people in the developed world to advocate lifestyle choices to those in the developing world.
Sachs replied that he strongly agreed with “Pope Francis’ support for ‘responsible parenthood’ as also enunciated by Pope St. Paul VI. This idea means that families, that is mothers and fathers together, should take a rational decision on having children based on their circumstances with focus of securing their flourishing.”
SDG target 5.6 is to “Ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights as agreed in accordance with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences.”
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