Friday May 28, 2010

Italian Bishops Warn of Nation’s ‘Demographic Suicide’

By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

ROME, May 28, 2010 ( – In a May 25 address to his fellow Italian bishops at the 61st plenary assembly, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, warned about his nation’s “slow demographic suicide” thanks to a plummeting birthrate.

“Over 50% of families today are without children,” he said. Another quarter have only one child, 20% have two, while just 5.1% have three or more.

“Because of this, an urgent policy is needed that is oriented to children, which is geared henceforth to a balanced generational change-over,” said Bagnasco, as reported by Zenit, adding that “innovation that can liberate the future of our society” must be embraced.

“The family based on that unalterable good that is marriage between one man and one woman must be defended and constantly preserved as a crucible of moral energy, determinant when it comes to giving perspectives of life to our present time,” noted the cardinal.

Bagnasco pledged the Italian bishops to a greater commitment “in family ministry and in marriage preparation, to work to root even deeper the idea that children are gifts that multiply the credit to life and its tomorrow.”

The bishop’s warning of Italy’s demographic suicide follows closely the findings of a report issued in March by the Milan-based International Center for Family Studies, that revealed the country’s fertility rate of 1.31 children born per woman has resulted in a largely childless and aging nation.

Despite continued high levels of foreign immigration, the report cites 2009 statistics showing a 0.047 decrease in population.

The study found that 57.8 per cent of childless households said they had no children out of “personal choice.” Reasons for this personal choice, the report said, include a general sense of uncertainty about the future and the inherent difficulties involved in raising children.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is seeking ways to turn around his country’s disastrously low birth rate, saying he would try to remove “material reasons” that push women to seek abortions and limit their family size.

A cash incentive for having more children, implemented in 2003, was a resounding failure. Labor and Welfare Minister Roberto Maroni offered 1000 Euros to every woman who had a second child. The bonus was paid to about 190,000 women when the measure was first implemented, but then applications for the money petered out.

Parents complained of the complications of organizing their day around school hours and other inconveniences incompatible with an affluent lifestyle with both parents working. Asked why she decided to have only one child, one woman said: “People prefer to just have one so they can give the child everything – the best schools, the best clothes, the best everything.”

See related LSN articles:

Over Half of Italian Families Childless: Report

Cash Likely Not Enough to Reverse Italy’s Population Decline

President of the Vatican Bank: Zero Population Growth Responsible for World-wide Recession


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