November 14, 2002
I cannot fail to mention, on such a solemn occasion, another grave threat that bears upon the future of this Country, one which is already conditioning its life and its capacity for development. I refer to the crisis of the birthrate, the demographic decline and the aging of the population. Raw statistical evidence obliges us to take account of the human, social and economic problems which this crisis will inevitably impose on Italy in the decades to come. Above all, it encourages — indeed, I would dare to say, forces — citizens to make a broad and responsible commitment to favor a clear-cut reversal of this tendency. The Church’s contribution to the development of an attitude and culture by which this reversal of tendency can become possible is her pastoral action in favor of families and openness to life, and more in general in favor of a way of life marked by self-giving. But there is also ample room for political initiatives which, by upholding recognition of the rights of the family as the natural society founded upon marriage, according to the expression of the Constitution of the Italian Republic (cf. art. 29), can make the task of having children and bringing them up less burdensome both socially and economically.