ROME — Pope Francis blamed consumerism and mindless secular groupthink Wednesday for Europe’s loss of the sense of God’s presence.
In Europe, “the presence of God is diluted – we see this every day – the presence of God is diluted by consumerism and by the ‘vapours’ of a uniform way of thinking – something strange but real – that is the fruit of the mixture of old and new ideologies,” the pontiff declared during his weekly General Audience.
This consumerism and groupthink lead “us away from familiarity with the Lord, from familiarity with God,” the pope stated, urging Christians to find healing from this malady in “prayer, witness and humble love.”
The pope has often expressed his dissatisfaction with Europe, underscoring its low birthrate leading to a “demographic winter.”
The very first commandment God gives to man is to “be fruitful and multiply,” the pope has stated. Fruitfulness in the Bible is always a blessing, he continued, because “where there is God, there is fruitfulness.”
Whereas in the ancient world, sterility was seen as a curse and fertility as a blessing, some countries today “have chosen the path of sterility and suffer from that grave disease that is a demographic winter,” he said.
In the modern world, couples often refrain from having children for fear of undermining their own “well-being,” Francis said, and the result is “countries empty of children. And this is not a blessing,” he said.
“Fruitfulness is always a blessing of God,” whether it is material or spiritual, because all are called to give life in some way, the pontiff added.
On the contrary, the Pope declared, “the devil wants infertility; he wants each one of us not to live to give life to others, whether physical and spiritual, but for himself.”