Pope Francis has cautioned that having a family in Italy is turning into a “titanic effort” that only the wealthy can afford.
Speaking at a seminar on Italy’s demographic crisis, he claimed that many households were substituting children with dogs.
Numerous young individuals wearing t-shirts that said “we can do this” and making references to persuading parents to have more children were present on stage as well.
Births in Italy fell below 400,000 last year, a new low, and the country has one of the lowest fertility rates in the EU.
The Pope claimed in his speech in Rome that the dropping birth rate indicated that there was little hope for the future and that younger generations were burdened with a feeling of ambiguity, fragility, and precariousness.
“Difficulty in finding a stable job, sky-high rents and insufficient wages are real problems,” he said.
Warning that pets were replacing children in some households, the Pope recounted how a woman had opened her bag and asked him to “bless her baby”.
Except it was not a baby, but a small dog.
“I lost my patience and told her off: there are many children who are hungry, and you bring me a dog?” he added, triggering a round of applause from the crowd.
Birth rates are slowing in many countries – such as Japan, South Korea, Puerto Rico and Portugal.
But Italy, the third-largest nation in the eurozone, is extremely concerned about its demographic decline.
By 2050, the nation might have lost nearly a quarter of its population. The number of centenarians in Italy has tripled over the past 20 years, and the population is aging swiftly.
“The country of empty cribs” is a common description of Italy. Last month, even Elon Musk tweeted, “Italy is disappearing!”
According to experts, the population crisis will cause the country to become more impoverished. Giancarlo Gioargettih had predicted Italy’s economy would experience an 18% GDP decline by 2042 as a result of its dropping birthrate.