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Promotion of family life, fertility urged as answer to aging population

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United Nations

An intervention from the Holy See's Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations decried the low birth rates in 80 countries in the world, saying the statistics "should be a great cause for alarm."

Msgr. Janusz Urbanczyk, who is first counselor and charge d'affaires at the mission, delivered the intervention April 10 to the U.N.'s Commission on Population and Development.

He quoted from a recent report by the U.N. secretary-general's office that said, "Old-age support ratios, defined as the number of working-age adults per older person in the population, are already low in most countries of the more developed regions and are expected to continue to fall in the coming decades, ensuring continued fiscal pressure on support systems for older people."

"The unsustainable phenomenon of aging populations can only be resolved by promoting family life and fertility," Urbanczyk said. "Support systems for the aging can only be sustained by a larger, not smaller, next generation, either by paying into a social security system, or by providing intergenerational family support directly."

The priest voiced "grave concern" over policies suggested in a draft document by the International Conference on Population and Development. Their approach, he said, "seems to treat fertility and pregnancy as a disease which must either be prevented or managed via government or outside assistance."

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"An issue of great international sensitivity is an insistent promotion of so-called sexual and reproductive 'rights,' almost to the exclusion of any other issue," Urbanczyk said.

At the same time, though, the conference's "program of action" "in no way promotes abortion, but expressly repudiates it as a mean of controlling families or the population," he added.

Urbanczyk quoted Pope Francis in his remarks. "Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny them their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this," the pope said in his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium.

"The church cannot be expected to change her position on this question," the pope added. "It is not 'progressive' to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life."

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