Pope Francis lamented news of plunging birth rates worldwide in a Friday address, warning that there is “no future” without the family.
“If the family is not at the center of the present, there will be no future; but if the family takes off again, everything will take again,” the pope tweeted Friday.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data released in early May found that the provisional number of births in the United States in 2020 is down 4% from 2019. Women in the U.S. gave birth to approximately 3.61 million babies in 2020, compared to about 3.75 million births in 2019, and the United States total fertility rate fell to 1.64, the lowest rate since the government began tracking such data in the 1930s.
The United States is not the only country with plunging birth rates, the Holy Father said in his Friday address, noting that Italy has had the “lowest number of births in Europe” for years.
Pope Francis called for “an economy, information and culture that courageously promote birth.”
If the family is not at the center of the present, there will be no future; but if the family takes off again, everything will take again. #Birthrate
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) May 14, 2021
“We often talk about economic, technological and environmental sustainability and so on,” the pope said. “But we also need to talk about generational sustainability. We will not be able to nurture production and preserve the environment if we do not pay attention to families and children. Sustainable growth comes from here. History teaches us this.”
The pope also stressed the need for policies that focus on sustainability and solidarity.
“Solidarity then calls on the worlds of culture, sport and entertainment to promote and enhance the birth rate,” he said. “The culture of the future cannot be based on the individual and the mere satisfaction of his or her rights and needs. What is needed is a culture that cultivates the chemistry of the whole, the beauty of giving, the value of sacrifice.”
Pope Francis did not make mention of abortion or contraception in his discussion of birthrates.
The majority of women who are having children are now millennials, and researchers have suggested that their lowered fertility rates may be attributed to the fact that millennial women are getting higher levels of education, marrying later in life, and are not as financially secure at younger ages as other generations were.
“It’s a big social change in the U.S.,” Alison Gemmill, a demographer at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studying fertility told the New York Times. “A gradual shift of family formation to later ages.”
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