Written by Fr.Richard Nazzareno Farrugia

Having babies: a “resource” and an “answer” to overcome the current crisis

The Italian bishops’ message: “Generare la vita vince la crisi”

The Italian Bishops, in their message for the upcoming 35th National Day for Life that will be celebrated on 3rd February 2013, offer a word of encouragement to Italian families in these days of economic crisis and call on those responsible to help all families to overcome their difficulties through family-friendly policies that also include measures to alleviate them from fiscal burdens.

In times where it seems that having children is insane, the bishops remind that the desire to procreate is directly linked with the country’s possibility to grow and develop. In fact, “we won’t overcome this current critical phase by giving birth to less children or, worse, by suffocating life with abortion, but by putting more emphasis on the truth of the human person, on the logic of gratuity and on the great and unique gift of giving life, in this situation of crisis”.

As Gian Carlo Blangiardo – professor of Demography at Milan’s Bicocca University – notes in the Italian Bishops’ daily newspaper Avvenire (issue 25th October 2012; ), having children is an act gift towards society as a whole and such act of kindness should not be mortified but encouraged! Since the 1960s, world population has doubled, but food resources have tripled – he says. So the argument that we need to have fewer children in order to have enough food resources available seems to lack any factual basis.

Surely a nation without children is a nation without future. As regards our country, unlike Italy, annual births overcome annual deaths (these are the two data that are normally used by statisticians to calculate population growth) as the Demographic Reviews of these last years show (consult National Statistics’ Office (Malta) website on http://www.nso.gov.mt/site/page.aspx).   However we too need to face the challenge of an ongrowing individualistic anti-life mentality that the actual economic crisis could empower making people think that children are "a financial burden" and not a "resource" for the growth and development of our country.  Such mentality needs to be countered by a “culture of life”, that promotes life, encourages those parents who want to have more than one child through family-friendly policies, and reminds public opinion that the cause of human poverty is not the increasing world population, but the injustices that make the rich grow richer and the poor poorer.

It seems appropriate to recall Pope Benedict XVI’s words in the encyclical letter Caritas in veritate (29th June 2009, n. 28): “Openness to life is at the centre of true development. When a society moves towards the denial or suppression of life, it ends up no longer finding the necessary motivation and energy to strive for man's true good. If personal and social sensitivity towards the acceptance of a new life is lost, then other forms of acceptance that are valuable for society also wither away. The acceptance of life strengthens moral fibre and makes people capable of mutual help. By cultivating openness to life, wealthy peoples can better understand the needs of poor ones, they can avoid employing huge economic and intellectual resources to satisfy the selfish desires of their own citizens, and instead, they can promote virtuous action within the perspective of production that is morally sound and marked by solidarity, respecting the fundamental right to life of every people and every individual”.        

* The message could be read on http://www.avvenire.it/Dossier/CEI/Documenti/Pagine/MESSAGGIO-PER-LA-VITA-2012.aspx.