Pope Francis warned Thursday that countries with legalized abortion and low birth rates are “impoverishing their futures” by not having children.
Calling the low birth rates in many western countries a “social emergency,” the pope said society needs to act before the problem gets worse, the Catholic News Agency reports.
“The issue of birth rate represents a real social emergency,” the pope told politicians and organization leaders at a conference about birth rates in Rome, Italy. “It is not immediately perceptible, like other problems that occupy the news, but it is very urgent. Fewer and fewer children are being born, and this means impoverishing everyone’s future.”
Pope Francis said the crisis both saddens and frightens him because families are being deprived of the joy of children, according to CNA.
“Yes, it is a tragic poverty, because it affects human beings in their greatest wealth: bringing lives into the world to care for them, passing on to others the received existence with love,” he said.
The pope also acknowledged the sorrow of families who cannot have children and encouraged them to keep “hoping big.”
Here’s more from CNA:
Struggling to realize their dream of children, some people settle for “mediocre substitutes,” he added, such as work, cars, travel, and leisure time. …
“This is a new poverty that scares me,” the pope commented. “It is the generative poverty of those who discount the desire for happiness in their hearts, of those who resign themselves to watering down their greatest aspirations, of those who settle for little and stop hoping big.”
This is not the first time the pontiff has warned about the consequences of low birth rates in Europe, Asia and North America.
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In January, Pope Francis encouraged young couples to have children, saying: “Having a child is always a risk, either naturally or by adoption. But it is riskier not to have them. It is riskier to deny fatherhood or to deny motherhood, be it real or spiritual.”
Too many couples across the world are choosing not to have children, and some are filling the relationship gap with pets instead, he continued in his January speech. These choices are creating a “demographic winter” in countries across the world where populations are aging, welfare programs are running out of money and the elderly have no one to care for them, he continued, according to Vatican News.
The Catholic Church leader frequently speaks about the value of children, born and unborn. In September, he criticized the “throwaway” culture that makes abortion seem “normal.”
“There is the waste of children that we don’t want welcome,” he said. “It is really a murder.” Later, he added: “Is it right to eliminate, to take a human life to solve a problem? Is it right to hire a hitman to solve a problem? That’s what abortion is.”
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