Pope Francis Criticizes Selfishness, Consumerism As Reasons For Declining Birth Rates

In his address to the General States of Natality, an annual conference in Rome, Pope Francis criticized selfishness, consumerism and individualism as the reasons for declining birth rates in the West. The pontiff asserted that “the problem of our world is not the children who are born: it is selfishness, consumerism and individualism, which make people satiated, lonely and unhappy.”

According to the pope, the birth rate is “the first indicator of the hope of a people.” He noted that the average age of the Italian population has now risen to 47 years and that “without children and young people, a country loses its desire for the future.”

Francis also related a conversation with a demographer who told him that the highest income-generating investments are “weapons manufacturing and contraceptives.” The pope questioned what future can be expected when one investment destroys life and the other prevents it.

The pontiff called for greater social and government action to create an economic and cultural environment where married couples feel more free to have children. He said that mothers should not have to choose between work and childcare and that young couples should be freed from job insecurity and the impossibility of buying a house.

Francis countered “outdated” myths of dangerous overpopulation asserting that human beings are the solution to the world’s difficulties. He argued that the root of pollution and starvation in the world is not too many children being born but rather the choices of those who think only of themselves and engage in rampant materialism and consumerism.