Pope Francis calls out dangerously low birth rates in Europe

Published 29.10.2017 20:16
Updated 29.10.2017 20:17

The Vatican's Pope Francis decried the below-replacement level birthrate on the continent in his address to the European parliament.

One of the political stereotypes of the 2010s is that while most sides admit to the aging population in Europe, only conservatives view it as an actual problem.

Pope Francis however, despite his liberal beliefs, is not afraid to call out this major issue, going as far as to bring it up right in the face of top European Union leadership.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected that by 2050 the ratio of workers to retirees will shift from four for one to two for one. Think tanks, such as the Brookings Institution, predict that the median age in Europe will dramatically increase from 37.7 years old to 52.3 by the middle of the century. By comparison, that number will be just 35.4 years in the United States.

If the trends continue, the population pyramid of Europeans will eventually change into a square, and then eventually shift into an upside down pyramid; a complete catastrophe in demographic terms.

Eurostat's own numbers confirm the Pope's worries, as well as many demographers. A solution to this impending disaster is viewed by them as both necessary and long overdue.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans and EU Parliament Chief Antonio Tajani were part of the audience.

The Pontiff even brought up the issue of widespread abortions on the continent.

Europe is suffering, the pontiff said, from "a period of dramatic sterility. Not only because Europe has fewer children, and all too many were denied the right to be born, but also because there has been a failure to pass on the material and cultural tools that young people need to face the future."

Indeed, some fringe leftists have even suggested that Europeans having fewer children is a good thing because it helps the environment, meanwhile completely ignoring the dangerously high birthrates in the developing world.

While most European countries have birthrates ranging from 1.7 to 1.1, birthrates in African countries, like South Africa, Nigeria and Angola, are 6.0, 6.4 and 7.5 respectively. Latin America, the Middle East, Central Asia and India also have very high birthrates.

The numbers in Europe however might be even lower when it comes to the native population, as immigrant populations from Africa and the Middle East tend to retain their high birthrates, which is already causing an unprecedented change to Europe's population; and it's a problem that is only getting worse.

The Pope had pessimistically described Europe as a "grandmother, no longer fertile and vibrant," in another address to the European Parliament in 2014.

However he also called for change. "A Europe that rediscovers itself as a community will surely be a source of development for herself and for the whole world."

The EU's leadership went on to hear the Pope say that Europe "is not a mass of statistics or institutions, but is made up of people" who ought not be "reduced to an abstract," alluding to the heavy bureaucratic culture that dominates the bloc.

For Pope Francis, "leaders together share responsibility for promoting a Europe that is an inclusive community," as it looks to face challenges including the "imbalances caused by a soulless globalization."

He also said that the situation in the Mediterranean Sea regarding the influx of thousands of illegal immigrants and refugees is an ongoing issue which cannot be ignored.

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