Europe’s Childlessness Rooted in Fear of the Future, Says Pope

Europe's seeming disinterest in having children stems from a refusal to invest the necessary time and sacrifice into raising children, Pope Benedict XVI said, along with a deep uncertainty and fear of the future.

"A child needs loving attention. This means that we must give children some of our time, the time of our life," the Holy Father said his address to the Curia December 22. "But precisely this "raw material" of life — time — seems to be ever scarcer. The time we have available barely suffices for our own lives; how could we surrender it, give it to someone else?"

"Men and women today are unsure about the future," he said. "This fact, alongside the desire to have all of life to themselves, is perhaps the most profound reason for which the risk of having children appears to many as almost unbearable. If we do not relearn the basic foundations of life — if we do not rediscover the certainty of faith — it will also be ever more difficult for us to give others the gift of life and the challenges of an unknown future."

The demands of the marriage vocation are further undermined by civil union legislation, the Holy Father said, which makes it more difficult for couples to accept the "legally ordered and binding coexistence of marriage."

In addition, such legislation relativizes the differences between the sexes and supports the "fallacious" theories that denies the existence of masculinity and femininity.

"Such theories hold that man – that is, his intellect and his desire — would decide autonomously what he is or what he is not," Pope Benedict said. In doing so, the integrity of the body is "scorned, with the consequence that the human being, in seeking to be emancipated from his body — from the "biological sphere" — ends by destroying himself."

"If we tell ourselves that the Church ought not to interfere in such matters, we cannot but answer: are we not concerned with the human being? Do not believers, by virtue of the great culture of their faith, have the right to make a pronouncement on all this? Is it not their — our — duty to raise our voices to defend the human being, that creature who, precisely in the inseparable unity of body and spirit, is the image of God?"

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