Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Italian birth rate continues to sink and drag down Italian “life satisfaction”

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, October 23, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The latest birth rate record, released last week by the Italian government’s statistical agency, Istat, has shown that in the first four months of 2013, 8,000 fewer children were born in Italy than in the same period of the previous year. With a total fertility rate standing at about 1.41 children born per woman, Italy’s birth rate is ranked 203rd out of 224 countries of the world.

As of this year too, Italian deaths have outstripped births, with 10.01 deaths per 1,000 population and 8.94 births per 1,000. And the gap is widening. The numbers for 2012 showed about 12,000 fewer births than the previous year and about 19,000 more deaths than in 2011.

Moreover, Italians are increasingly reporting that, despite their nation’s reputation for natural beauty, good food and an easy-going lifestyle, they are not happy. According to a survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the OECD Better Life Index, asked to rate their satisfaction with life on a scale from 0 to 10, Italians placed their own happiness at about 5.8, lower than the OECD average of 6.6.

While some secular pundits are pointing the finger at the economic crisis, Christian observers have warned that the collapse in the birth rate, and its accompanying social and psychological malaise, have nothing to do with either the post-war economic booms or the current recession. Indeed, the drop in fertility has been a feature of Italian life for four decades, following a post-war population and economic boom. The country legalised contraception, divorce and abortion in rapid succession in the 1970s.

Riccardo Cascioli commented on the statistics, writing in the Christian opinion website La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, that the loss of children is a consequence of Italy’s loss of its religious identity.

“Actually you stop bringing children into the world not for lack of money but out of a lack of confidence in the future, and it is no coincidence that the collapse of births in Italy have accompanied the rapid process of secularization, which from a social point of view and from the legislature, resulted in the spread of contraception, the introduction of divorce and abortion with all that this implies.”

While the country is still identified strongly with Catholicism, with about 80 per cent of the population being at least nominally Christian, weekly attendance at Mass has never been lower. An on-the-ground survey in the archdiocese of Milan in 2007 showed that the commonly quoted statistic of 30 per cent was wildly over-optimistic. On the spot surveys showed that only about 15 per cent said they had been to Mass on all of the previous four Sundays.

After a trend of growth in both population and the economy following World War II, the Italian population leveled out and remained essentially unchanged between 1981 and 2001. With increasing immigration, the population again started showing an increase in the beginning of the 2000s.

As of January 2011, Italy’s total population was 60,626,442 inhabitants. The population has grown in the last year, at a rate of about 0.5 per cent. As with most developed nations, however, the only demographic factor keeping Italy’s population from actually shrinking, is immigration. According to 2012 statistics, about 4.3 million or about 7.4 percent of the population are foreign born, up from 6.8 the previous year.

Also with the slow birth rate has come an increase in the average age, with people over 65 now accounting for one fifth of the population. Italian demographer Giancarlo Baliga said last year that by 2041 “The age group most represented in the structure of the Italians will become the 70s.”

With the fertility rate standing at one of the lowest in the world, can be paired the median female age of 45.3 years, a combination from which, demographers say, its is all but impossible to recover. This can be compared with a country of similar population size, the Democratic Republic of Congo, with a median female age of 17.9 years and a total fertility rate of 4.95 children born per woman.

Italy’s population decline is not being slowed even by its immensely superior medical care and consequently longer life expectancy. With only 3.33 infant deaths per 1,000 live births, Italy has one of the lowest rates of infant mortality in the world, compared with the Congo’s 74.87 deaths per 1,000 live births. The Italian average overall life expectancy is 81.95 years compared with the Congo’s 56.14 years.

Commenting on the latest Istat figures and the loss of social confidence, Ernesto Galli della Loggia wrote in Corriere della Sera, “This is the Italy of today. A country whose so-called civil society is immersed in modernity, with 161 phones for every hundred inhabitants, but a population who do not read books… and who hold the European record for hours spent each day in front of the television (just under 4 hours each, according to statistics).”

“All these things together are our crisis. And all these things feed discouragement that gains more ground, the feeling of mistrust that resonates today in countless conversations, in the most minute daily commentaries and between different stakeholders. The idea grows increasingly insistent that for Italy, there is no more hope. Increasingly a singular notion is spreading: that we have arrived at the end of a race that began a long time ago between a thousand hopes, but which now is ending in nothing.”

Galli della Loggia blamed political corruption and the economic crisis, saying that the low fertility rate is a consequence of people having less money and less job security. But Riccardo Cascioli countered that while this may seem like “common sense,” its “reasoning is contradicted by reality”.

The trend to lower birth rates, Cascioli said, has been a feature of Italian life for four decades, “when the fertility rate of Italian women fell well below the European average, which is currently around 1.5 children per woman”.

“In other words, the collapse of births is prior to the economic crisis and, in fact, is a cause of the latter, indeed the root cause.”

“We must recognize,” Cascioli wrote, “that this is a crisis of identity for all Italian people, who have long stopped believing in the future and in life, and who therefore are condemned to a slow extinction unless a new factor intervenes.”

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Lisa Bourne

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Pressure mounts as Catholic Relief Services fails to act on VP in gay ‘marriage’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne
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Rick Estridge, Catholic Relief Services' Vice President of Overseas Finance, is in a same-sex "marriage," public records show. Twitter

BALTIMORE, MD, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- Nearly a week after news broke that a Catholic Relief Services vice president had contracted a homosexual “marriage” while also publicly promoting homosexuality on social media in conflict with Church teaching, the US Bishops international relief agency has taken no apparent steps to address the matter and is also not talking.

CRS Vice President of Overseas Finance Rick Estridge entered into a homosexual “marriage” in Maryland the same month in 2013 that he was promoted by CRS to vice president, public records show.

Despite repeated efforts at a response, CRS has not acknowledged LifeSiteNews’ inquiries during the week. And the agency told ChurchMilitant.com Thursday that no action had been taken beyond discussion of the situation and CRS would have no further comment.

"Nothing has changed,” CRS Senior Manager for Communications Tom said. “No further statement will be made."

LifeSiteNews first contacted CRS for a response prior to the April 20 release of the report and did not receive a reply, however Estridge’s Facebook and LinkeIn profiles were then removed just prior to the report’s release.

CRS also did not acknowledge LifeSiteNews’ follow-up inquiry later in the week.

“Having an executive who publicly celebrates a moral abomination shows the ineffectiveness of CRS' Catholic identity training,” Lepanto Institute President Michael Hichborn told LifeSiteNews. “How many others who hate Catholic moral teaching work at CRS?”

CRS did admit it was aware Estridge was in a “same-sex civil marriage” to Catholic News Agency (CNA) Monday afternoon, and confirmed he was VP of Overseas Finance and had been with CRS for 16 years.

“At this point we are in deliberations on this matter,” Price told CNA that day.

ChurchMilitant.com also reported that according to its sources, it was a well-known fact at CRS headquarters in Baltimore that Estridge was in a homosexual “marriage.” 

“There is no way CRS didn't know one of its executives entered into a mock-marriage until we broke the story,” Hichborn said. “The implication is clear; CRS top brass had no problem with having an executive so deliberately flouting Catholic moral teaching.”

“The big question is,” Hichborn continued, “what other morally repugnant matters is CRS comfortable with?”

While the wait continues for the Bishops’ relief organization to address the matter, those behind the report and other critics of prior instances of CRS involvement in programs and groups that violate Church principles continue to call for a thorough and independent review of the agency programs and personnel.

“How long should it take to call an employee into your office, tell him that his behavior is incompatible with the mission of the organization, and ask for his resignation?” asked Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher. “About thirty minutes, I would say.”

“The Catholic identity of CRS is at stake,” Hichborn stated. “If CRS does nothing, then there is no way faithful Catholics can trust the integrity of CRS's programs or desire to make its Catholicity preeminent.” 

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Thousands of marriage activists gathered in D.C. June 19, 2014 for the 2nd March for Marriage. Dustin Siggins / LifeSiteNews.com
The Editors

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Watch the March for Marriage online—only at LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, D.C., April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- At noon on Saturday, the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and dozens of cosponsors, coalition partners, and speakers will launch the third annual March for Marriage. Thousands of people are expected to take place in this important event to show the support real marriage has among the American people.

As the sole media sponsor of the March, LifeSiteNews is proud to exclusively livestream the March. Click here to see the rally at noon Eastern Time near the U.S. Capitol, and the March to the Supreme Court at 1:00 Eastern Time.

And don't forget to pray that God's Will is done on Tuesday, when the Supreme Court hears arguments about marriage!

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Hillary Clinton: ‘Religious beliefs’ against abortion ‘have to be changed’

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By Ben Johnson

NEW YORK CITY, April 24, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Speaking to an influential gathering in New York City on Thursday, Hillary Clinton declared that “religious beliefs” that condemn "reproductive rights," “have to be changed.”

“Yes, we've cut the maternal mortality rate in half, but far too many women are still denied critical access to reproductive health,” Hillary told the Women in the World Summit yesterday.

Liberal politicians use “reproductive health” as a blanket term that includes abortion. However, Hillary's reference echoes National Organization for Women (NOW) president Terry O’Neill's op-ed from last May that called abortion “an essential measure to prevent the heartbreak of infant mortality.”

The Democratic presidential hopeful added that governments should throw the power of state coercion behind the effort to redefine traditional religious dogmas.

“Rights have to exist in practice, not just on paper. Laws have to be backed up with resources, and political will,” she said. “Deep-seated cultural codes, religious beliefs, and structural biases have to be changed.”

The line received rousing applause at the feminist conference, hosted in Manhattan's Lincoln Center by Tina Brown.

She also cited religious-based objections to the HHS mandate, funding Planned Parenthood, and the homosexual and transgender agenda as obstacles that the government must defeat.

“America moves ahead when all women are guaranteed the right to make their own health care choices, not when those choices are taken away by an employer like Hobby Lobby,” she said. The Supreme Court ruled last year that closely held corporations had the right to opt out of the provision of ObamaCare requiring them to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization to employees with no co-pay – a mandate that violates the teachings of the Catholic Church and other Christian bodies.

Clinton lamented that “there are those who offer themselves as leaders...who would defund the country's leading provider of family planning,” Planned Parenthood, “and want to let health insurance companies once again charge women just because of our gender.”

“We move forward when gay and transgender women are embraced...not fired from good jobs because of who they love or who they are,” she added.

It is not the first time the former first lady had said that liberal social policies should displace religious views. In a December 2011 speech in Geneva, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said perhaps the “most challenging issue arises when people cite religious or cultural values as a reason to violate or not to protect the human rights of LGBT citizens.” These objections, she said, are “not unlike the justification offered for violent practices towards women like honor killings, widow burning, or female genital mutilation.”

While opinions on homosexuality are “still evolving,” in time “we came to learn that no [religious] practice or tradition trumps the human rights that belong to all of us.”

Her views, if outside the American political mainstream, have been supported by the United Nations. The UN Population Fund stated in its 2012 annual report that religious objections to abortion-inducing drugs had to be overcome. According to the UNFPA report, “‘duty-bearers’ (governments and others)” have a responsibility to assure that all forms of contraception – including sterilization and abortion-inducing ‘emergency contraception’ – are viewed as acceptable – “But if they are not acceptable for cultural, religious or other reasons, they will not be used.”

Two years later, the United Nations' Committee on the Rights of the Child instructed the Vatican last February that the Catholic Church should amend canon law “relating to abortion with a view to identifying circumstances under which access to abortion services may be permitted.”

At Thursday's speech, Hillary called the legal, state-enforced implementation of feminist politics “the great unfinished business of the 21st century,” which must be accomplished “not just for women but for everyone — and not just in far away countries but right here in the United States.”

“These are not just women's fights. These have to be America's fights and the world's fights,” she said. “There's still much to be done in our own country, much more to be done around the world, but I'm confident and optimistic that if we get to work, we will get it done together.”

American critics called Clinton's suggestion that a nation founded upon freedom of religion begin using state force to change religious practices unprecedented.

“Never before have we seen a presidential candidate be this bold about directly confronting the Catholic Church's teachings on abortion,” said Bill Donohue of the Catholic League.

“In one sense, this shows just how extreme the pro-abortion caucus actually is,” Ed Morrissey writes at HotAir.com. “Running for president on the basis of promising to use the power of government to change 'deep seated cultural codes [and] religious beliefs' might be the most honest progressive slogan in history.”

He hoped that, now that she had called for governments to change religious doctrines, “voters will now see the real Hillary Clinton, the one who dismisses their faith just the same as Obama did, and this time publicly rather than in a private fundraiser.”

Donohue asked Hillary “to take the next step and tell us exactly what she plans to do about delivering on her pledge. Not only would practicing Catholics like to know, so would Evangelicals, Orthodox Jews, Muslims, and all those who value life from conception to natural death.”

You may watch Hillary's speech below.

Her comments on religion begin at approximately 9:00. 

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