Demographic Winter in Italy

Father Vianelli (CEI): ‘The Capacity to Dream Is Lacking’

Demographic Winter in Italy
Mother holding her baby's hand © Cathopic

At the end of the Angelus last Sunday, on the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth, Pope Francis launched a stern warning. “Speaking of the family, a real concern comes to mind, at least here in Italy: the demographic winter. It seems that many have lost the hope of going forward with children; so many couples prefer not to have any or to have only one child. It’s a tragedy,” said the Pontiff. “Let’s do everything possible to regain awareness, to overcome this demographic winter, which goes against our families, our homeland, and our future, “ stressed the Pontiff.

More Fear Than Hope

Well, the Holy Father’s words are absolutely to be underwritten,” commented to SIR agency Father Marco Vianelli, Director of CEI’s office for the Pastoral Care of the Family. “The Pope having taken part also in the States-General of the Birth Rate, has this subject very much at heart and has often spoken of this problem,” he continued. For the Italian priest it’s “a problem that tells about the society: there is an objective dimension that is the lack of children, which speaks of a nation that seems to have more fear than hope.” Father Vianelli highlighted that “the number of fewer children that we had this year is lower than the number of children that were born in 1918, with an Italy that had a population decimated by the War and that lived in a constant state of fear for the social and economic future of the country. However, that Italy was able to bet more on the future than the present one.”

A Transformation Underway 

This is a “symptom of a time of scared relationships. In this connection, the Pope does good to put the accent on this aspect, without accusing anyone, because he hands over his worries without pointing the finger at anyone as bad, but simply highlighting that we are talking of a different Italy than we’ve known: enterprising, capable of dreaming the economic development, which passes through creativity and small companies,” continued the Director of CEI’s office. “However, if there are no children, the capacity to dream is lacking, and this absence of children is a symptom of a transformation underway,” he added. “Work must be done not only in having children, but on the reason for having them, such as the stability of bonds, labor security, with particular attention to women.” For the Director, in fact, it’s inconceivable that today a woman must find herself again choosing between being a mother or “having a career.” “Thus we all lose. Because in every case we must give up on a professional and a viable workforce or a mother,” he concluded.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester