On May 12, Pope Francis and Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni attended the “General State of the Birth Rate” conference to address Italy’s concerning population decline. The Pope suggested that a society’s birth rate mirrors its faith in the future, stating, “If few are born it means there is little hope.” He pointed out the socioeconomic impact of the decline and expressed concerns about the burden of child-rearing being placed solely on families.
With Italy’s birth rate of 1.25 births per woman being among the lowest in Europe, it was noted that the increasing self-reliance and decline in communal living creates a sense of isolation. The Pope criticized the trend of pets replacing children and emphasized the need for societal change to make starting a family a shared value.
Addressing the audience’s concerns about his health, the Pope explained his use of a walker due to standing pain. He called for a societal shift to cultivate hope, defining it as an active life stance and not merely a positive emotion. He also alluded to the need for a more welcoming approach to both childbirth and immigration.
Pope Francis underlined the urgent need for collective action to combat Italy’s demographic crisis, stressing the role of the family as part of the solution.
In closing, he urged for an inclusive, hopeful society that values human and generational wealth brought by children.