A recent workshop at the Vatican has stirred controversy, with critics saying that some statements made could have troubling implications on church teachings regarding families.

The purpose of the “Biological Extinction” workshop was to examine ways “how to save the natural world.” The controversy stemmed from comments made by Peter Raven, the President of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, who said that due to overpopulation, “we need a more limited number of people in the world.” He argued that because of limited resources, inequality continues to be prevalent: “In the framework of social justice worldwide we need to find ways for natural resources to be distributed on the basis of compassion and love.”

He said, “[That] is why Pope Francis and his three most recent predecessors have always argued that you should not have more children than you can bring up properly.”

Though Raven’s comments seem to encourage smaller families, the Catholic Church is opposed to artificial birth control. 

The panel discussion at the workshop also included Dr. Paul Ehrlich, a defender of abortion rights who co-authored the controversial book The Population Bomb that examines the idea of population control.