"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

“When I die, there will be no one left to sing for me.” A reflection on A Washington Post Article on the Vanishing of Europe By: Msgr. Charles Pope

By: Msgr. Charles Pope

We have discussed on this blog numerous times before the coming demographic implosion, especially among Europeans as a result of declining birthrates. It is a matter of some debate how serious the problem is, even among those living in Europe. And not being a denizen of Europe I am not able to play the prophet.

But one thing is clear, the birth rates are so low among traditional inhabitants of Europe, English, French, German, and Italian among others that it would seem the Europe as we have known it is aborting and contracepting itself out of existence. These ethnicities, races, and national identities are largely being replaced by Muslim immigrants. This much seems quite clear.

What is unclear, however, is the degree to which the Muslim immigrants will adopt European ways, to include smaller family sizes, European ways of thinking and living. It is largely assumed here in America the Muslims who Emigrate to Europe bring with them an unassailable attachment to Muslim culture, understood in its most radical and anti-western demeanor.

This assumption is not necessarily yet demonstrated by good, solid sociological or demographic data. Some argue that Muslim immigrants are largely adopting European ways, others argue that the opposite is true.

Further, some argue that the French are beginning to turn the birthrate problem around and are now above replacement level. This too, remains to be seen, particularly as to whether it will be maintained going forward.

In many ways, the jury is still out regarding Europe and its future.

An article appeared in the Washington Post today, on the very front page, which sets forth the demographic issue in Portugal. And there, according to the article, seems to exist a kind of worst-case scenario. The article describes the increasing results of what can only be described as a cultural suicide of the Portuguese through abortion and contraception leading to very low birthrates. But there also seems to be little economic incentive for people to immigrate and prop up the numbers. It seems very few are interested in taking the places of the diminishing and dying Portuguese.

The result, according to the article, is economic implosion as well as a sociological nightmare wherein few younger people exist to care for the older ones and in many parts of Portugal it seems that no one will be left to bury the dead.

Yes, it is the worst of both worlds: declining birthrates along with no immigrants to fill the gap.

Ronald Regan once received some heat from conservative Americans during the immigration debates of his administration. Inclined to grant amnesty to those here illegally, he observed that if our population is not increasing in America, neither will our economy grow. He was right, but certainly went against the prevailing orthodoxy which tends to see the economic pie as a fixed set of resources that must be divided among ever larger numbers at the table.

But this does not seem to be absolutely the case. It would seem that increasing populations also bring with them some of their own assets. Economies are generated by demand, and the supply, which we have in some abundance, grows to meet it. Growing populations, at least in the more affluent West, dotend to grow the economy as well.

I am no economist and will admit there are matters to debate here, but my own experience shows an increasing population in this country has, in fact, generated a growing economy for the most part.

But, as the example of Portugal shows, it would seem that a declining population, does not leave more with a fewer at the table, but results in less for everyone. Lowering of the economic tide eventually grounds all boats.

Consider some excerpts from the Washington Post article on Portugal today:

For an enterprise in the business of welcoming life, the birthing ward in Portugal’s largest maternity hospital is eerily quiet….Elsewhere in the hospital, signs of Europe’s crisis within a crisis are everywhere. Serving a country that was battling a low birthrate even before the region’s economy fell off a cliff, Alfredo da Costa Maternity Hospital delivered about 7,000 babies a year until recently. But…the number of births crashed last year to 4,500, leading the hospital to mothball an entire wing and slash 20 percent of the staff.

The recent decline in births across Portugal — a 14 percent drop since 2008 — has been so acute that in an increasingly childless country, 239 schools are shutting down this year and sales of products such as baby diapers and children’s shampoos are plummeting….At the same time, in the fast-graying interior, gas stations and motels are being converted into nursing homes.

Portugal is at the forefront of Europe’s latest baby bust, one that is shortening the fuse on a time bomb of social costs in some of the world’s most rapidly aging societies….

Europe has faced a gradual decline in birthrates since the 1960s…a modest rebound during the 2000s….has now gone into reverse.

The baby shortage, economists say, is set to pile on the woe for a swath of the continent that may already be facing a decade or more of economic fallout from the debt crisis that started in 2009.

A reckoning accelerates. By 2030, the retired population in Portugal, for instance, is expected to surge by 27.4 percent, with those older than 65 predicted to make up nearly one in every four residents. With fewer future workers and taxpayers being born, however, the Portuguese are confronting what could be an accelerated fiscal reckoning to provide for their aging population.

[Some] experts predict that the population loss ahead could be beyond even the worst-case predictions….That has many here bemoaning the “disappearance” of a nation and asking: Who will be left to support a dying country of old men and women?

Seniors living at the home, such as Maria Jesus Rodrigues, 87, relish the contact with children. “We used to have children everywhere when I was young. We never thought about the economic side; we just had them,”

Rodrigues…burst into a local folk song. “I have to sing now,” she crooned, “because when I die, there will be no one left to sing for me.”

These are excerpts, the full story is here: Crisis in the Cradle

Hence it would seem that Portugal is in very serious shape, inheriting the worst of both worlds. Low birthrates and no immigrants. There was a time, when Catholic Portugal teamed with large families.

In a way, there is a judgment of God upon the whole West, In effect God seems to be saying, “If you don’t love life you don’t have to have it.”

Large sections of Portugal may simply go into an unpopulated an abandoned status (until some economic incentive returns for others to move and live there).

Other large sections of Europe, once Christian, seemed destined to become Muslim Caliphates. That of course presumes that the Muslim immigrants retain their identity and their love for large families, and do not adopt decadent Western ways.

All that remains to be seen, but it does seem clear that the Europe we have known is passing from our sight. Pope Benedict spoke of the lights going out all over Europe. He certainly had the faith in mind, but as an article like this shows, it is not only the Christian faith which is diminishing in Europe, but even European as we’ve known them maybe endangered and simply disappearing.

The Church has always been right about contraception and abortion. These paraded in as devilish lives which promised “reproductive freedom” and prosperity. But in fact, they only ushered in what they’re really all about: death.

Here is a video from heady and arrogant times. I like Star Trek, but this clip is very emblematic of an era and the thinking that has led us down some very tragic paths. Captain Kirk speaks right out of the mentality of the mid 1960s.

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