Giorgia Meloni and Pope Francis Unite in Pro-Natality Campaign
Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni met with Pope Francis for the first time Tuesday, with the nation’s serious demographic problems front and center in their discussions, Vatican News reported.
Pope Francis has repeatedly denounced Europe’s “demographic winter” led by his host country of Italy, which has the lowest birthrate of any nation on the continent, well below replacement levels.
On Monday, the pontiff warned of a growing fear of bringing children into the world in an address to the Vatican diplomatic corps.
In the case of Italy, he said, “there is a dangerous fall in the birthrate, a veritable demographic winter, which endangers the very future of society.”
Similarly, last May, the pope decried falling birthrates in the Western world, calling the demographic drop a new form of “generative poverty” leading to a “cold demographic winter.”
Declining birthrates represent “a real social emergency,” the pope declared. “It is not immediately perceptible, like other issues that occupy the news, but it is very urgent: fewer and fewer children are being born, and this means impoverishing everyone’s future; Italy, Europe, and the West are impoverishing their future.”
Leaders of nations need to wake up to the problem of fewer and fewer children, the pope proposed, and do something about it.
“Failing to see the problem of the declining birthrate is a short-sighted attitude; it means ceasing to look ahead, further forward,” he said. “It means turning the other way, thinking that the problems are always too complex and that nothing can be done. It means, in other words, giving up.”
“The data, the forecasts and the numbers are by now known to all: action is needed,” the pope declared. “It is the moment to give real answers to families and young people: hope cannot and must not die waiting.”
In this matter, Francis has found a willing ally in Giorgia Meloni, who ran on an election campaign motto of “God, Family, Homeland” and who has promised assistance to young couples who would like to have children.
“The challenge of the birth rate is our challenge of life,” Meloni said in a 2022 Twitter post. “While in Italy the left has always preferred the shortcut of immigration to solve the problem of demographic decline, Fratelli d’Italia has always placed family assistance policies at the center of the debate.”
“Italy is a nation destined to disappear,” Meloni has stated in reference to dire demographic data. “Fratelli d’Italia has been leading for years, often alone, a battle to ensure that the birth rate is a priority for Italy and for Europe.”
Meloni, who has made history as Italy’s first female prime minister, spent 35 minutes with Pope Francis, accompanied by her young daughter Ginevra, before meeting with the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.