Pope: Consumerism, not overpopulation, to blame for world hunger

da roleta.By Joseph Tulloch

da Brasileirão Sub-17: Pope Francis on Friday addressed the General States of Natality, an annual conference in Rome organised by the Italian government to discuss the country’s declining birth rate.

This year’s meeting had the title “Being there: More youth, more future.”

Babies, consumerism, and world hunger

Pope Francis began his address to the conference by noting that, in the past, there was “no shortage of studies” warning of the dangers of overpopulation.

“I was always struck”, the Pope said, “by how these theses, which are now outdated, talked about human beings as if they were problems.”

Pollution and world hunger, the Pope emphasised, are not caused by the birth of children, but rather by “the choices of those who only think about themselves, the delirium of an unbridled, blind and rampant materialism, and of consumerism.”

“The problem”, Pope Francis noted, “is not how many of us there are in this world, but rather what kind of world we’re building.”

He went on to note that, in Italy – which has one of the lowest birthrates in Europe – the average age is now 47 years old. The Pope warned that the country, like the rest of Europe, is “slowly losing its hope in tomorrow”.

“The Old Continent,” Pope Francis said, “is becoming an elderly continent.”

Pope Francis with participants in the conference Ways forward

The Pope recommended two solutions to the crisis, one institutional and the other social.

“At the institutional level,” he said, “there is an urgent need for effective policies, courageous, concrete and long-term choices, to sow today so that children can reap tomorrow. A greater commitment is needed from all governments, so that the younger generations are put in a position to realise their legitimate dreams.”

It is also important, the Pope added, to promote “a culture of generosity and intergenerational solidarity”.

This would involve, he said, “reconsidering habits and lifestyles” and “renouncing what is superfluous”, in order to “give the youngest hope for tomorrow.”

Courage

The Pope then moved on to consider the topic of hope, addressing his words on the subject to young people in particular.

“I know that for many of you,” he said, “the future may seem ominous, and that amidst the collapse in the birth rate, wars, pandemics and climate change it is not easy to keep hope alive.”

“But do not give up,” the Pope urged them, “have faith, because tomorrow is not something inescapable: we build it together.”

Abandonment of the elderly ‘cultural suicide’

Towards the end of his speech, the Pope laid his prepared remarks to one side and spoke off-the-cuff on the subject of society’s treatment of the elderly.

“Lonely grandparents, discarded grandparents: this is cultural suicide”, he said.

“The future is built by the young and the old, together,” the Pope continued. “Please, when talking about the birth rate, which is the future, let us also talk about grandparents, who are not the past, but help the future.”

“Have children, lots of them,” Pope Francis concluded, “but also look after your grandparents.”

Pope Francis with participants in the conference

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