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ROME (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took the stage together to give an address during a conference on collapsing birth rates in Italy.

On May 12, the second day of the two-day conference “States General on natality,” Meloni said during her keynote speech that “[i]f women do not have the opportunity to fulfill their desire for motherhood without having to give up professional fulfillment, it is not that they will not have equal opportunities, they will not have freedom.”

“We want to give Italians back a country where being fathers and mothers is a socially recognized value and not a private matter,” the Italian prime minister stated. “A nation where having a child is a beautiful thing, which does not take anything away from you and does not prevent you from anything and which gives you a lot. For decades, the dominant culture has told us otherwise, I think it’s time to reverse the trend.”

Meloni posited that “talking about motherhood and families is a revolutionary act” and stressed that “natality is the priority of our action so that Italy returns to have hope in the future.”

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The president of the Pontifical Academy for Life (PAV) has described assisted suicide as sometimes being the “greatest common good concretely possible” contrary to the Catholic Church's strenuous condemnation of the practice.

This betrayal of the Catholic faith by Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia is not for the first time, with the PAV repeatedly causing scandal under his watch by:

  • recently appointing a notorious pro-abortion atheist to the organization
  • claiming contraception and artificial insemination are sometimes acceptable
  • insisting that priests could accompany people through assisted-suicide, and
  • that Italy's pro-abortion law is a “pillar” of the country's social life.

SIGN: Pope Francis must remove Abp. Paglia from the Pontifical Academy for Life

“Personally, I would not practice suicide assistance,” Archbishop Paglia told an Italian journalism conference last week, “but I understand that legal mediation may be the greatest common good concretely possible under the conditions we find ourselves in.”

Accepting an anti-life Italian court ruling that specified when assisted-suicide is permitted, the archbishop claimed “it is not to be ruled out that in our society a legal mediation is feasible that would allow assistance to suicide under the conditions specified by Constitutional Court Sentence 242/2019...”

From the outset of his presentation in Perugia, Paglia also undermined the authority of the Catholic Church on matters of faith and morals, stating: “First of all, I would like to clarify that the Catholic Church is not that it has a ready-made, prepackaged package of truths, as if it were a dispenser of truth pills.” 

SIGN: Abp. Paglia must be removed from the Pontifical Academy for Life

The PAV issued a statement on Monday trying to clarify the archbishop's remarks, insisting that Paglia “reiterates his ‘no’ towards euthanasia and assisted suicide, in full adherence to the Magisterium”.

However, far from denouncing Paglia’s words, the PAV unsurprisingly supported its president. Referencing the Italian court ruling which partially decriminalized euthanasia by outlining exceptions to its illegality, the PAV stated it was in the context of this ruling that Paglia had made his comments.

In this precise and specific context, Msgr. Paglia explained that in his opinion a ‘legal mediation’ (certainly not a moral one) in the direction indicated by the Sentence is possible, maintaining the crime and the conditions under which it is decriminalized, as the same Constitutional Court has asked Parliament to legislate. 

The PAV’s fudging of the issue was met with consternation from several Catholic commentators, with liturgist Matthew Hazell, who had highlighted Paglia’s original comments, asking “How hard is it for the @PontAcadLife to just say ‘sorry’ for scandalising the faithful? Indeed, how hard is it to actually adhere to the teaching of the Church on life issues? Are you so incapable of reading the signs of the times & interpreting them in the light of the Gospel?”

SIGN: Abp. Paglia's presidency of the Pontifical Academy for Life is untenable

It's vital that the Church and PAV push back against the culture of death, rather than trying to accommodate it and accept a world that where the vulnerable are helped to kill themselves.

Be part of pushing back against the tide and making it clear that there is no room for confusion or betrayal when it comes to the sanctity of human life and the infallibilty of Catholic teaching on the matter. 



Abp. Paglia defends assisted-suicide as 'greatest common good possible' for dying people - LifeSiteNews

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READ: Japanese PM warns country it faces social collapse because of falling birth rate

She furthermore said that her government has “dedicated a department to birth rates” to “address the great crises, among which the demographic one is undeniable.”

Meloni added that “children are the cornerstone of building any future.”

Speaking out against surrogacy, the Italian prime minister stressed that “wombs are not for rent,” and “children are not over-the-counter products.”

Francis made some pro-family remarks but failed to condemn contraception, abortion

Francis, who gave his address after Meloni, indicated that a low birth rate is a sign of a low level of hope.

“The challenge of natality is a matter of hope, which is not illusion or vague optimism, it is a concrete virtue, it is an attitude of life, it is nourished by commitment and it grows when we are participants and involved in giving meaning,” the Pontiff said. “Feeding hope is a social, intellectual, artistic action in the highest sense of the word, that is, putting one’s resources to common service.”

“In a context of uncertainty and fragility, the younger generations experience a feeling of precariousness for which tomorrow seems like a mountain to be climbed,” Francis said.

He stressed that this fear of an uncertain future must be overcome and that “we must have the courage to bet on families, on children.”

“Far-sighted policies are needed,” Francis said. “We need to prepare fertile ground for a new spring to blossom and leave behind this demographic winter.”

“And, since the ground is common, as society and the future are common, it is necessary to address the problem together, without ideological fences and preconceived stances.”

“A change of mentality is needed: The family is not part of the problem, but part of its solution,” he continued. “And so I ask myself: Is there anyone who knows how to look ahead with the courage to bet on families, children, young people?”

While Francis addressed the problem of low birth rates and made some unspecific pro-family remarks, he failed to mention any of the major evils that led to the collapse in birth rates, like the legalization of abortion, contraception, and no-fault divorce.

READ: Elon Musk blames low fertility rates on abortion, birth control in Tucker Carlson interview

Italy’s extremely low birth rate could lead to societal collapse

To “avoid the collapse of the system,” National Family Forum president Gigi De Palo called for a “Marshall Plan” to “jump-start the birth rate by reaching 550,000 [births per year] by 2033,” during the birth rate conference. Such a plan should include tax cuts for families with children and support for companies “so that women do not have to choose between work and family,” according to De Palo.

Italy has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world, hovering around 1.2 children per woman. The country’s birth rate has been steadily declining since 2008, reaching a low point of around 392,000 births in 2022, while the nation recorded almost twice as many deaths at approximately 713,000.