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Pope Francis urges Italy to raise birth rate as Europe weathers ‘demographic winter’

Rome — Pope Francis warned on Friday that Europe was in a “demographic winter” and encouraged Italians to have more children. Catholic Church leaders urge Italian politicians to take concrete action to address economic insecurity, making having children a ‘hard endeavour’ only the wealthy can afford said it is.

Speaking with Italian right-wing Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni at an annual conference on fertility, Francisco called on politicians to find solutions to the social and economic problems that keep young couples from having children.

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Pope Francis addresses next to Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni during the two-day “General States” conference in Rome on May 12, 2023.

Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty

The 86-year-old pope said, “The real problem is the difficulty of finding a stable job, the difficulty of keeping a job, prohibitively expensive housing, prohibitively high rents and inadequate wages.” , added that it was a “free market without the necessary remedial action.” , becomes barbaric and creates increasingly serious conditions and inequalities. ”

Italy has the lowest birth rate in Europe.This country set a new recordlow number of births Last year there were just 392,598. The figure is of particular demographic concern considering that the total number of deaths in the country in 2022 was 713,499.

Experts say at least 500,000 births a year are needed to prevent the collapse of Italy’s social security system. Italy’s economy minister warned this week that the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) could fall by 18% over the next 20 years if the trend doesn’t reverse.

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The Meloni administration is encouraging families to have more children, including tax cuts for families with children, helping young couples buy their first home, and encouraging communities to provide free childcare so parents can return to work. Proposing measures to encourage

Francis said those most affected by the economic climate are young women who face “nearly insurmountable constraints” when forced to choose between careers and motherhood. Many women are “overwhelmed by the weight of caring for a family,” she said.

“We must not accept that our society has abandoned the creation of life and has fallen into grief,” he said. “When generations of life are gone, sadness creeps in. It’s an ugly, gray disease.”

This isn’t the first time Frances has criticized people for choosing to keep pets instead of children. He told the story of a woman who asked to be blessed for her “baby” and found a small dog when she opened her bag.

“Then I lost patience and shouted at the woman, ‘Ma’am, so many children are hungry and you’re taking the dog!’

In January 2022, Francis claimed People who choose to keep dogs and cats instead of children “degrade us and dehumanize us,” he said.

For the third consecutive year, Francisco has attended the annual fertility event, attending in person in 2021 and sending a written message in 2022. He has sounded the same alarm bells on two previous occasions, calling on leaders to address low fertility rates in western countries. countries soon.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/pope-francis-italy-birth-rate-europe-demographic-winter/ Pope Francis urges Italy to raise birth rate as Europe weathers ‘demographic winter’

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