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Pope laments low birthrate, emphasizes that children are a gift and a joy

February 11, 2015

Continuing his series of Wednesday general audiences on the family, Pope Francis spoke on February 11 about children.

“Children are the joy of family and society,” he said. “They are not a problem of reproductive biology, or one of many ways to realize oneself in life, let alone their parents’ possession. Children are a gift.”

“Each is unique and each is unrepeatable; and yet unmistakably tied to his or her roots,” he continued. “You love your child because he is a child, not because he is beautiful, healthy, and good; not because he thinks like me, or embodies my desires.”

The Pope said that the “experience of being a son or daughter allows us to discover the most gratuitous dimension of love, which never ceases to amaze us. It is the beauty of being loved before … Before we have done anything to deserve it, before we can speak or think, even before coming into the world.”

Expanding upon this theme, he added that “being a child is the fundamental condition to know God’s love, which is the ultimate source of this real miracle. In the soul of every child, not matter how vulnerable, God puts the seal of this love, which is the basis of his or her personal dignity, a dignity that nothing and no one can destroy.”

Reflecting on the Fourth Commandment, he said that

a society of children who do not honor their parents is a society without honor, when you do not honor your parents you lose your honor! It is a society destined to fill itself with arid and greedy young. However, even a society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society.

Just think of the many societies we know here in Europe. They are depressed societies because they don’t want children, they don’t have children. The birth rate doesn’t even reach 1%, why? Everyone should think about that and answer it personally.

The Pope added:

As the encyclical Humanae Vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VI teaches, having more children cannot be automatically viewed as an irresponsible choice. The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished! Children learn to take charge of their family, they mature in the sharing of sacrifices, and they grow in appreciation of its gifts. The experience of joyful fraternity animates the respect and care of parents, who are due our gratitude.


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