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The Numbers Game

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | May 28, 2008

I’ve noticed a lot of numbers in the news lately, and I only trust about half of them.

For example, I don’t believe Economy magazine’s estimate that Padre Pio’s shrine will consistently outdraw the Marian shrine at Lourdes in future years. The shrine may outdraw Lourdes while Padre Pio’s largely incorrupt body is on display. But this won’t go on forever, and I don’t think Padre Pio will be too happy if his shrine outdraws Mary’s.

On the other hand, I do believe the demographic data in the Church’s statistical yearbook which shows the Catholic percentage of world population holding steady at 17.3%. Europe and Asia are in relative decline; most of the rest of the world is on the rise. It is also noteworthy that Catholics in general aren’t having as many children as some other groups, such as Muslims.

I believe the recent Los Angeles Times survey which showed that Californians favor a constitutional amendment to protect traditional marriage by a 54 to 35 percent margin. Though the popular will has not had much influence on these matters lately, I applaud the effort to hold off approval for same-sex unions until a referendum can be held. It is predictable that the strength of the pro-marriage numbers was downplayed. Nonetheless, a nineteen percent margin is highly significant politically.

At the same time, I don’t believe police estimates that nearly four million people participated in the 12th Gay Pride parade in Sao Paulo, Brazil. That would mean gays can draw almost four times as many people as Pope Benedict XVI, which is highly doubtful. Nor do I credit the math of tourism minister Marta Suplicy who, having estimated that visiting gays spent about $115 million during their stay, asserted: “This is the diversity that this country wants.”

Sadly, I very much do believe that the UN Population Fund sent 250,000 condoms, along with oral and injected contraceptives, as emergency relief for cyclone victims in Myanmar. This is exactly what UNFPA could be expected to do for people who are in desperate need of food, clothing, shelter and medicine. It is a sad commentary on the genocidal tendencies of the very rich when faced with the problems of the very poor.

It all proves once again that numbers don’t lie—sometimes.

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