Speaking on April 5 to a UN session on sustainable development, the Vatican’s representative observed that declining fertility rates should cause a shift in nations’ priorities.

“For decades, talk of an impending population bomb has led certain governments to adopt policies that encourage population control measures, some of them draconian, as the easiest response to the fear of resource scarcity and underdevelopment,” said Archbishop Bernardito Auza. Now the aging population in many countries raises new questions about the ability of modern societies to sustain themselves.

Archbishop Auza acknowledged the population continues to grow in some countries. However, he argued, “demographic growth is fully compatible with shared prosperity.” The world’s resources are sufficient to fee and supply a growing population, he said. “Corruption, protracted conflicts and other man-made disasters, especially in the developing world, do far more to perpetuate injustice and entrench poverty than a healthy, growing population.”