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Youth in Italy want people to have kids

Pope Francis blesses a child

Antoine Mekary | ALETEIA

Isabella H. de Carvalho - published on 03/21/23

Young Italians are meeting with politicians to discuss how to encourage people to have children, a topic which Pope Francis addresses often.

On March 22, a group of young Italians will participate in a round-table discussion with politicians from various leanings on how cultural, societal, and political actors can come together to encourage people to have children. Italy has one of the lowest fertility rates in the world — only 5 countries have a lower one — and Pope Francis has often lamented the “demographic winter” that affects the country.

The event on March 22 will feature a round-table discussion between 10 young Italians ranging from 20 to 35 years old, and four politicians, representing parties spanning from the right to center-left on the political spectrum. The aim is to encourage a “demographic spring,” by reflecting on what policies and cultural and social initiatives can be adopted to encourage young couples to have more children. 

According to The World Factbook, with only 1.24 births per woman, Italy has the worst fertility rate in Europe and the 6th worst globally. The 2023 birth rate in the country was 7 births per 1,000 people and Italian women tend to have children on average at around 31 years old. There were 392,598 births in 2022, 7,651 fewer than in 2021 (-1.9%).

The March 22 event will be streamed online on the organizers’ website and will feature talks by other relevant figures, such as the president of the national Italian statistics institute (ISTAT) and two mayors. It will be held in a hotel across the street from the Italian Chamber of Deputies, one of the houses of the Italian parliament. 

The day was organized by the “Rete per la giornata della vita nascente” (network for the day of nascent life), a group of around 45 associations, mostly Christian, which have come together to promote life and increasing birth rates. Every year they organize a festival in March for the cultural promotion of motherhood, fatherhood, and nascent life. Their objective is to encourage politicians to establish a day for nascent life on March 25, the feast of the Annunciation, when the Son of God became man in Mary’s womb.

Pope Francis’ appeals

Pope Francis has lamented the “demographic winter” that affects Italy and other mainly European countries during numerous speeches, prayers, and appeals. He has called this phenomenon a “tragedy” and a “social emergency.” 

The Pontiff has also called for “less selfishness” from individuals who may see children as “a threat” to their lives. He also explained that all levels of society –  institutional, media, cultural, economic and social – need to “foster, improve and implement concrete policies aimed at revitalizing birth and family” to help overcome “ideological barriers.”

Additionally, he has praised countries such as France, which has the second-highest fertility rate in Europe, for implementing “very good pro-family measures.”

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