Wednesday September 22, 2010

Have More Children and Go Back to Church or Europe Will Become Islamicized: Senior Vatican Official

By Hilary White

ROME, September 22, 2010 ( – Europe will grow more “Islamicized” if Christian Europeans do not start having more children, and going back to Church, a senior Vatican official said this month. Msgr. Piero Gheddo, a famous missionary and an official with the Vatican’s Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, told Zenit news service that Europe’s indigenous inhabitants have abandoned Christianity and are becoming “paganized.”

“The fact is that, as a people, we are becoming ever more pagan and the religious vacuum is inevitably filled by other proposals and religious forces,” said Msgr. Gheddo, who founded AsiaNews, the Christian missionary news service. As religious practice diminishes in Christian Europe, “indifference spreads; Christianity and the Church are attacked.”

“If we consider ourselves a Christian country, we should return to the practice of Christian life, which would also solve the problem of empty cradles.”

Msgr. Gheddo pointed to demographic statistics showing that the population of native Italians is decreasing by 120,000 or 130,000 a year “because of abortion and broken families.” At the same time, 200,000 legal immigrants a year are moving into Italy. More than half of these, he said, are Muslims who continue to have the large families that Italians now eschew.

“Newspapers and television programs never speak of this,” he said. “However, an answer must be given above all in the religious and cultural fields and in the area of identity.”

Msgr. Gheddo was responding to the taunts of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, who angered many on a recent official visit to Italy when he said that Europe should convert to Islam. He gave a lecture to 500 young women, who had been paid to attend, in which he urged them to convert and offered to find them Muslim husbands in Libya. The comments were denounced by Archbishop Robert Sarah, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who called them a “provocation.”

But Msgr. Gheddo warned that the provocation could well have been a mere prediction.

“No newspaper – except Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Episcopal Conference – has seriously taken into consideration how to respond to this challenge of Islam, which sooner or later will conquer the majority in Europe,” he said.

Recent surveys conducted in Italy by local Catholic dioceses have found that the much-quoted number of Italians claiming to attend Mass weekly, 30 percent, can be deceptive. In Venice, it was discovered that the number of those actually attending is closer to 18 percent, and the numbers drop dramatically among younger Italians.

Although the Italian birth rate has crept up in recent years, from being the lowest in Europe at 1.2 children per woman, it still sits at only 1.31, a level sometimes referred to by demographers as the “death spiral,” in which a society’s population will inevitably begin to shrink.

Piero Gheddo is the author of over 80 books on the conditions of people in the developing world, with the first being published in 1956.

In a recent blog post, Fr. Gheddo, who refers to himself as a “missionary journalist,” decried the closure of Christian youth facilities and churches and the deterioration of schools and family life due to high Italian divorce rates.

What, he asks, has the “so-called ‘secular morality’ thing” done for young people?

“It replaced the [Church-run youth facilities] with the clubs that many call centers of distribution of alcohol and drugs.” Secularism has created a culture in which teenagers run wild, a new phenomenon in Italy. The culture promoted in these clubs, he said, is one in which “perversion and chaos and spiritual emptiness reign supreme.”

“Drugs, alcohol, free sex and psychedelic music for hours at high volume are some ‘diversions’ that kids seek and find allowed in these places, which are sometimes encouraged and financed by local governments.”

“All this is the fruit of our civilization ever more distant from God and then from the education of young people.”

Read related LSN coverage:

Italian Society being “Seriously Mutilated” by Negative Fertility Rates: Italian Cardinal

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