Ste,-I think it is much too readily taken for granted by Mr. E. McCabe, and Mr. W. Walshe, that world population is increasing. It is impossible to know for certain what the total of world population is-much less its rate of increase, or decrease, In many parts of the world no census is taken, nor is it possible; in many other parts the so-called census is quite unreliable. Estimates can be made by various indirect methods; but these are usually very rough indeed. Some estimates of the population of China, for example, differ by as much as 200 millions. The U.N.O. publishes
population statistics of 68 countries in the monthly bulletin.
Mr. Walshe speaks of Asiatic 'areproductivity " as being indisputable. If by this he means that there is a rapid growth of population in Asia I can assure him that this is by no means indisputable. I have already pointed out that the total population of China is unknown; it follows therefore that its rate of change is equally unknown. For example, one writer considers that it had increased by 75 millions between 1910 and 1928. According to another writer there has been no appreciable Change since the end of the last century. Which is correct? In Japan, between 1920 and 1940 the gross reproduction rate fell from 2.66 to 2.06. It is quite true that the population of our country has been increasing by millions, while the birth-rate has been falling. But that is not in the least odd; it can continue for a long time before the decline begins to appear in the population. This stage is now almost upon us; population increase has virtually stopped, although it so happens that our birth-rate, in common with that of many other European countries, has for the past few years been rising. It may be this fact of a rising European birth-rate which has aroused a fear of over-population in the minds of some people. Soil erosion certainly exists; but its extent can easily be exaggerated. We cannot conclude, because we find erosion at widely separated points on the earth's surface, that it is everywhere extensive. Nor can we assume that where it exists, it is necessarily too late to arrest and reverse the process. It may he difficult. but it is not impossible. But what of those virgin soils still remaining that everyone seems strangely anxious to overlook ? can therefore see no reason for encouraging a low fertility in our families-especially our Catholic families. To those who fear overpopulation may I recommend the following thoughts'? In the beginning many things were permitted in order to people the world. As the need diminished, these things, marriage of close-knit, polygamy, polygandry and such, were gradually fora bidden, tintil the New Law uplifted the status of marriage but at the same time pointed to the higher state of a celibate life given up to the service of God. Since in a Christian country under the institution of monogamy the birth-rate depends upon the proportion of married people in the population, a way to reduce fertility is to increase the proportion of celibates. Our religion provides all the answers to the population problem, and those who fear over-population should pray for more vocations. The need for priests and religious has probably never been more urgent since the Black Death than it is now.
Let us, then, turn away from thoughts of family limitation and become more mindful of the need for the conversion of our country
(and Russia); events which will necessarily call for a marked expansion in the numbers of prtests. CHARLES E. MACDP.111.