Pope Francis and Italian Conservative Premier Giorgia Meloni.Photo/NCR.
Pope Francis on Friday joined Italy’s conservative premier in encouraging Italians to have more children, denouncing the financial precariousness facing young couples and “selfish, egotistical” choices that have led to a record low birth rate that is threatening the country’s economic future.
The Vatican head urged concrete political action to invert the “demographic winter,” which in population terms resulted in the disappearance of a city the size of Bari last year.
Francis did blast couples who have pets instead of children, called for resources to be dedicated to helping couples grow their families as it’s necessary to “plant the future” with hope.
“Let us not resign ourselves to sterile dullness and pessimism,” Pope Francis told an annual gathering of pro-family organizations. “Let us not believe that history is already marked, that nothing can be done to reverse the trend.”
Italy recorded a low number of live births last year, 392,598, which combined with an elevated number of deaths, 713,499, has accelerated the demographic trend that threatens to crash the country’s social security system.
Giorgia Meloni is backing a campaign to encourage at least 500,000 births per year by 2033, a rate demographers say is necessary to prevent the economy from collapsing by growing the wage-earning population when retirees starts drawing on their pensions.
Writing by Tersoo Nicholas