Saturday, June 28, 2008

Pope Benedict is Quoted in the NY Times Today!

"To many, “lowest low” is hard evidence of imminent disaster of unprecedented proportions. “The ability to plan the decision to have a child is of course a big success for society, and for women in particular,” Letizia Mencarini, a professor of demography at the University of Turin, told me. “But if you would read the documents of demographers 20 years ago, you would see that nobody foresaw that the fertility rate would go so low. In the 1960s, the overall fertility rate in Italy was around two children per couple. Now it is about 1.3, and for some towns in Italy it is less than 1. This is considered pathological.”

There is no shortage of popular explanations to account for the drop in fertility. In Athens, it’s common to blame the city’s infamous air pollution; several years ago a radio commercial promoted air-conditioners as a way to bring back Greek lust and Greek babies. More broadly and significant, social conservatives tie the low birthrate to secularism. After arguing for decades that the West had divorced itself from God and church and embraced a self-interested and ultimately self-destructive lifestyle, abetted above all by modern birth control, they feel statistically vindicated. “Europe is infected by a strange lack of desire for the future,” Pope Benedict proclaimed in 2006. “Children, our future, are perceived as a threat to the present.” In Germany, where the births-to-deaths ratio now results in an annual population loss of roughly 100,000, Ursula von der Leyen, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s family minister (and a mother of seven), declared two years ago that if her country didn’t reverse its plummeting birthrate, “We will have to turn out the light.” Last March, AndrĂ© Rouvoet, the leader of the Christian Union Party in the Netherlands (and a father of five), urged the government to get proactive and spur Dutch women to have more babies. The Canadian conservative Mark Steyn, author of the 2006 best seller “America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It,” has warned his fellow North Americans, whose birthrates are relatively high, that, regarding their European allies, “These countries are going out of business,” and that while at the end of the 21st century there may “still be a geographical area on the map marked as Italy or the Netherlands,” these will “merely be designations for real estate.”

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/29/magazine/29Birth-t.html?_r=1&oref=slogin

1 comment:

Jennifer F. said...

Wow. That's a sobering article. Great quote from the Holy Father, as always!