On Sunday, Pope Francis decried Italy’s declining birthrate, saying that it posed a threat to the country’s future.
Births in Italy fell for the 12th straight year last year, reaching their lowest level since the country’s unification in 1861, according to the national statistics office.
“The demographic winter is a serious concern, at least here in Italy,” Pope Francis stated during his weekly address in front of St. Peter’s Basilica.
“Many people appear to have lost the desire to have children. Many couples opt to be childless or to have only one child. It’s a catastrophe… that threatens our families, our country, and our future.”
According to the ISTAT statistics agency, there were 404,892 births in Italy last year, a decrease of 15,192 from 2019. In 2020, there were 746,146 deaths as the population declined to 59.3 million. According to ISTAT, the births fall has persisted this year, with the COVID-19 pandemic appearing to be a cause.