By John-Henry Westen

VATICAN, April 28, 2006 ( – In a message to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI noted “we are witnessing on a planetary level, and in the developed countries in particular, two significant and interconnected trends: on the one hand, an increase in life expectancy, and, on the other, a decrease in birth rates.” He added, “As societies are growing older, many nations or groups of nations lack a sufficient number of young people to renew their population.”

While he admitted that the cause of the troublesome situation is “complex” he stressed that “its ultimate roots can be seen as moral and spiritual; they are linked to a disturbing deficit of faith, hope and, indeed, love.” He explained, “To bring children into the world calls for self-centred eros to be fulfilled in a creative agape rooted in generosity and marked by trust and hope in the future.”

Concluding the point he said, “Perhaps the lack of such creative and forward-looking love is the reason why many couples today choose not to marry, why so many marriages fail, and why birth rates have significantly diminished.”

The German-born Pontiff who has seen the birth rate plummet in his own native land warned that the lack of love which inhibits the acceptance of children as a gift from God also harms children already born.“It is children and young people,” he said, “who are often the first to experience the consequences of this eclipse of love and hope.” Adding that, “Often, instead of feeling loved and cherished, they appear to be merely tolerated.”ÂÂ

Children “frequently lack adequate moral guidance from the adult world, to the serious detriment of their intellectual and spiritual development . . . they are often exposed solely to materialistic visions of the universe, of life and human fulfillment,” he concluded.

Despite the clamouring of population control enthusiasts who continue to espouse debunked theories of overpopulation, the consensus among researchers even at the United Nations, is that there is a population implosion on the horizon. However, there remain some who laugh off declining fertility rates, and see no cause for concern. One such naysayer, the UK Ambassador to the Vatican Francis Campbell, got an earful from Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, the President of the Pontifical Council on the Family at a conference in Rome earlier this year.Â

Responding to Campbell’s suggestion that the phenomena of declining fertility rates was nothing to be alarmed about, the Cardinal replied, “We are realizing the worst prophecies of aging and demographic implosion, and European politicians are seeing this with alarm . . . The myth of over-population has collapsed.” (see coverage

See related coverage:
  Vatican to UN: Be “Sane” and Get out of the Population Control Business

See the full Papal Message: