No Children, No Future, Warn Italy's Bishops

In Message for 26th Pro-Life Day

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ROME, FEB. 1 2004 ( Italy’s bishops linked the nation’s demographic drop to egotism, a weakening sense of social commitments, and economic pressures — as well as abortion.

«Without children there is no future,» the Italian episcopate warned in its message for the 26th Pro-Life Day, observed today. «If there are few children, in a society of adults and elderly, the future vanishes. To whom do we pass on what we are, what in turn our parents gave us?»

«The contrary is also true: Without a future there are no children,» the message adds. «When the horizon becomes uncertain or risky, one perceives the diminished desire to give life, the courage to have children.»

In 2002, the overall fertility level in Italy rose marginally, to 1.26 children per woman, compared with 1.25 the year before, the newspaper Il Corriere della Sera reported in December. Replacement level is 2.2 children per woman.

The bishops’ statement, first published in November, laments that stability and fidelity — values necessary for healthy home life — are unappreciated in present-day society.

«Children are forever,» the bishops state, «they require a solid family to be able to grow — parents who give them love throughout life, in a stable manner.»

Likewise, «economic resources are also a problem,» the message notes. Children cost much «and the organization of our society makes them cost ever more.»

Italy’s forms of financial assistance to parents «are far from the levels of other European countries,» the message states.

The episcopate also points to other problems, including the lack of day-care centers and part-time work. It also notes that women who spend years raising children are often considered professionally deficient when they return to the business world.

Moreover, the Italian bishops assail the «persistent practice of abortion.»

The prelates also call for the overcoming of egoism, «which drives one to consider generosity, communion and fraternity as the vices of losers, when instead history shows that in the long run they are the virtues of the winners.»

The bishops urge involvement on the political front to support the family, «the first nucleus of Italian society.»

For the first Pro-Life Day, in 1979, the bishops urged Christian communities not to close their eyes «to the intrinsic evil of abortion.»

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