How many children do we want in the world?

Pope Francis’ ecology encyclical Laudato si’ (LS) is an opportunity to look at “how many children we want to have on this planet” and the other human systems we have “overlaid on the planet”, participants at a discussion on the encyclical heard earlier this month.

The comments were made by the director of Catholic Earthcare, Jacqui Remond, one of the guests at a panel discussion entitled Integral Ecology – unpacking the Pope’s call to action on climate change at Australian Catholic University (ACU) North Sydney campus on 6 August.

Children sit atop a structure inside a U.N. base in Malakal, South Sudan. More than 20,000 civilians have lived inside the base since shortly after regional fighting broke out in December 2013, but renewed fighting in 2015 drove another 5000 people into the relative safety of the camp. Photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey
Children sit atop a structure inside a U.N. base in Malakal, South Sudan. More than 20,000 civilians have lived inside the base since shortly after regional fighting broke out in December 2013, but renewed fighting in 2015 drove another 5000 people into the relative safety of the camp. Photo: CNS/Paul Jeffrey

Ms Remond was joined by the Bishop of Broken Bay, Bishop Peter Comensoli, Caritas Australia chief execuive officer Paul O’Callaghan, and Fr Denis Edwards, a member of ACU’s faculty of theology and philosophy.

“I think I see in LS a core tenet here about how we understand the natural world and the beauty of it; the deep interconnectedness of it; the genius of it,” Ms Remond said.

“[And] the ongoing nurturing of the natural ecosystem in its own way and the human system that we’ve overlaid on top of that, the many human systems – the economic being one – health, education, our population and what’s happening.

“And I think we’re invited to really take a look at the human systems that we’ve overlaid on top and where they misalign – where they cause poverty for the earth and poverty for human kind – to make adjustments. So that’s broad across all the human systems.

“And I think that invites us to think through when we are at a stage of child bearing and rearing how many children we want to have on this planet and how our ecosystems can sustain that and that’s part of our thinking if we’re really ecologically connected.”