Pope Francis: We Need More Children; There’s ‘No Shortage of Dogs and Cats’

A fun couple is home with their pet dog and cat.
Getty/Stock Photo

ROME — Pope Francis lamented the West’s continued demographic decline, insisting on Friday that fewer children signals a lack of hope in the future.

Countering “outdated” myths of dangerous overpopulation, the pontiff contended that far from being a problem, human beings are the solution to the world’s difficulties.

Without naming names, the pope seemingly referred to characters like Stanford biologist Paul Ehrlich, who penned the 1968 doomsday bestseller The Population Bomb, which sparked hysteria over the future of the world and the earth’s ability to sustain human life.

Among Ehrlich’s predictions that proved spectacularly wrong, he prophesied that hundreds of millions would starve to death in the 1970s (65 million of whom would be Americans), that already-overpopulated India was doomed, and that most probably “England will not exist in the year 2000.”

In his address to the General States of Natality, an annual conference in Rome organized by the Italian government to discuss the country’s declining birth rate, Francis asserted that “every gift of a child reminds us that God has confidence in humanity” because our existence “is not the result of chance: God wanted us.”

At the root of pollution and starvation in the world are not too many children being born, he asserted, but rather “the choices of those who think only of themselves, the delirium of an unbridled, blind and rampant materialism, of a consumerism that, like an evil virus, undermines the existence of people and society.”

Houses “fill up with objects and are emptied of children, becoming very sad places,” the pope added. “There is no shortage of dogs and cats. … These are not lacking. There is a shortage of children.”

“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,” he said.

According to the pope, the birth rate is “the first indicator of the hope of a people.”

“Without children and young people, a country loses its desire for the future,” he said, noting that the average age of the Italian population has now risen to 47 years.

If we were to take these data as a base, “we would be forced to say that Italy is progressively losing its hope in tomorrow, like the rest of Europe,” he said.

“The Old Continent is increasingly turning into the continent of the old, a tired and resigned continent, so caught up in exorcising loneliness and anguish that it no longer knows how to savor, in the civilization of giving, the true beauty of life,” he said.

The pope went on to relate a conversation with a demographer who told him that the highest income-generating investments are “weapons manufacturing and contraceptives.”

“One destroys life; the other prevents life. And these are the most profitable investments. What future can we expect?” he said.

In his address, Francis also called for greater social and government action to create an economic and cultural environment where married couples feel more free to have children.

As examples, he said that mothers should be put in a position where “they do not have to choose between work and childcare” and that young couples should be freed “from the burden of job insecurity and the impossibility of buying a house.”


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.