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At UN, nuncio laments falling birthrates, links economic growth, rising population

Catholic World News - February 14, 2011

Addressing the United Nations Economic and Social Council on February 11, Archbishop Francis Chullikatt lamented the extent of world poverty and urged a UN body to view the family, founded upon the marriage of a man and a woman, as central to development.

Noting that there are “over one billion people still living in extreme poverty and hunger,” the apostolic nuncio to the UN said that

a program for social development must give due recognition to the most basic social institution, the human family, founded on marriage. The institution of the family, which is a sine qua non for preparing the future generation, is being challenged by many factors in the modern world and the family needs to be defended and safeguarded. Children should not be seen as a burden but instead must be recognized as irreplaceable gifts. We must also acknowledge publicly that they are the builders of future generations. Often overlooked are the procreative and educational mission of parents and the intergenerational engagement experienced best in families. When a society is deprived of its basic unit, the family, and the social relationships that emerge from it, great psychological and spiritual suffering, even amidst economic and social well-being, can ensue.

Quoting Pope Benedict, Archbishop Chullikatt called upon nations “to enact policies promoting the centrality and the integrity of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, the primary vital cell of society, and to assume responsibility for its economic and fiscal needs, while respecting its essentially relational character.”

“While policy makers often state that population growth is detrimental to development, the reality is that where economic growth has increased, it is often accompanied with population increases,” the archbishop continued. “In developed regions, we are now witnessing dwindling and ageing populations and many nations are struggling to maintain social services and economic growth as the ratio of workers to non-workers decreases. In the developing regions, we are witnessing an unprecedented decline in fertility [and] birth rate – a decline advocated often as the best means to achieve development. However, many nations in the developing world are now at risk of growing old before they grow rich.”

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