Speaking to the world’s growing underpopulation problem, Pope Francis described children as a “blessing” that the devil is trying to destroy.
“The devil wants infertility,” the pontiff said during his Tuesday homily at the Vatican, according to the Church Militant. “He does not want us to give life, be it physical or spiritual, to others.”
Pope Francis said God’s first commandment to man was “Fill the earth, be fruitful!”
“Where there is God, there is fruitfulness,” he sad. “Fruitfulness is always a blessing of God.”
Yet, today, women across the world are having fewer children. The birth rates in many countries have sunk below replacement level, prompting concerns about future economics and care of the elderly.
Countries whose birth rates are below or near replacement level include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Iran, Russia, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan, according to the report. Many European nations also are struggling with increasingly elderly populations and low birth rates.
The pope distinguished between those who choose not to have children for selfish reasons and those who chose to be celibate to serve others.
“He who lives for himself produces selfishness, pride, vanity, greasing the soul without living for others,” he said.
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Here’s more from the report:
Pointing to the Old Testament, Francis noted children were considered a blessing and childlessness a curse.
“Infertility was a disgrace; not being able to bear children, not being able to have descendants,” he noted.
But today, the pontiff observed, a corrosive mindset has taken hold of societies across the world: the notion that barrenness is a benefit — even virtuous.
Many couples are choosing childlessness to maintain their own “economic well-being.”
The endpoint of this self-absorption, the pope conveyed is “countries empty of children.” Having “chosen the path of sterility,” they “suffer from that grave disease … a demographic winter.”
Underpopulation is not merely a concern of the religious. A 2012 United Nations study warned that the “most serious impact of aging populations would be in developing countries without safety nets or adequate legal protection in place for older people,” and pushed for reforms of Social Security-type programs and “national pensions” for the elderly.
“Informal support systems for older persons are increasingly coming under stress, as a consequence, among others, of lower fertility, out-migration of the young, and women working outside the home,” the UN report states.
Legalized abortion also has destroyed millions of unborn babies across the world each year who otherwise may have lived fruitful lives.