Pope Francis on the Lack of Babies: Concerns and Hopes in a Great Address in Favour of Women and Young People

Pope Francis

I would like to offer only two "photographs" that have happened here, in the Square [of Saint Peter]. Fifteen days ago, my secretary was in the Square and a mother came with a pram. He, a priest of tender heart, approached her to bless the baby. . .[but] it was a small dog! Fifteen days ago, in the Wednesday Audience, I was going to greet [the people] and I arrived in front of a lady, who was about fifty, more or less. I greeted the lady and she opened a bag and said to me: "Bless my baby" [it was] a little dog! I lost my patience there and scolded the lady: "Lady, so many children who are hungry, and you with the little dog!" Brothers and sisters, these are scenes at present, but if things continue this way, this will be the custom of the future, let's beware.

In fact, the birth of children is the principal indicator to measure the hope of a people. If few are born, it means that there is little hope. And this not only has economic and social consequences, but it undermines confidence in the future. I heard that last year Italy reached an historical minimum of births: only 393,000 new-borns. It's a figure that reveals a great concern for the morrow. Today, to bring children into the world is perceived as a family-run business. And this, unfortunately, conditions the mentality of the young generations, who believe in uncertainty, when not in disillusion and fear. They live in a social climate in which to found a family has become a titanic effort, instead of being a shared value that all recognize and support. To feel alone and obliged to trust only in one's own strength is dangerous: it means to erode little by little life in common and to be resigned to solitary existences, in which each one has to cope alone. With the consequence that only the richest can permit themselves, thanks to their resources, more freedom when it comes to choosing what form to give their lives. And this is unjust, in addition to humiliating.

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