Saturday, December 31, 2005

The Pontiff's Plea

Agence France Press reported Pope Benedict XVI's regret yesterday that "the great importance paid to conjugal love in modern societies" did not result in a willingness to have more children. He lamented the difficulty "to perceive and understand the value of the appeal to collaborate with God in the procreation of human life". The Pope added that "the fundamental vocation of the family is to be the first and the principal place to welcome new life" and urged the introduction of "legislative conditions favorable to family life".

I presume he meant that Governments offer stipends and tax breaks to young couples having more children. Such policies have failed in Europe, Israel and Japan to date. Educated women tend to prefer fewer children regardless of the financial inducements. The Pontiff's observations were in light of statistics that previously devout Catholic societies such as France, Italy, Portugal and Spain have the lowest birth rates in the world today.

Each individual is entitled to his or her opinion. The Pope, Hindu nationalists in India, Buddhist activists in Sri Lanka, Jewish fundamentalists in Israel and ethnic Chinese activists in Singapore share similar views on the need to beget more children. In each of these examples, there is an unstated subliminal fear of Islam's reported high birth rates, not realizing that the educated, regardless of religion, tend to opt for fewer children. Empowered women rarely desire repeated pregnancies.

The world is already over-populated. One forgets the plight of thousands of abandoned children left in orphanages through out the world. Is it not more important to meet their needs and those of destitute families before urging the faithful "to go forth and multiply"?

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Unmarried and gay couples in England and Wales gained adoption rights under a land mark new law that came into force yesterday offering hope to thousands of abandoned children.


doubtinggaurav said...


For a change I will support the pontiff,
As far as my understanding is concerned the birth rate in europe has declined below the replacement rate.

To me this indicates a malaise of the west, where material comfort is an end in itself. This is different from just a decline in birth rate. On one level I can understand this, I mean why should I invest in children, when I need to invest for my old age home which is of far greater importance to me.

Ofcourse I was not amused when RSS chief called for this, but in case of India there is no danger of population declining in near future !

Regarding unmarried couple call me a bigot, but if a man and woman can not trust themselves to sustain something as basic institution as marriage, shouldn't they be given low priority as far adoption is concerned.

Regards and Happy New Year

Jaffna said...

Doubting Gaurav,

Welcome back to Chennai. Good to hear from you. Season's greetings and best wishes for the Gregorian New Year. May 2006 be a good one.

froginthewell said...

I would agree with doubtinggaurav on this issue. But I would see a threat of islamization in Europe as well, not in the immediate future though.

As for hindu nationalists in India isn't your comment somewhat of an unfair generalization?


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