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Paweł Wosicki: Promoting life and family as the basic issue

16 marca 2004 | 14:13 | Ⓒ Ⓟ

The future of European civilization greatly depends on the resolute defence and promotion of the life-giving values
John Paul II, Ecclesia in Europa


In the recently published apostolic exhortation “Ecclesia in Europa”, John Paul II appeals to the Europeans for a general mobilization of consciences and a united ethical effort to activate a great campaign in support of life. Further on the Pope writes: All together, we must build a new culture of life. This is the great challenge which we must accept as our responsibility, in the certainty that the future of European civilization greatly depends on the resolute defence and promotion of the life-giving values which are the core of its cultural patrimony. This means restoring to Europe her true dignity as a place where every person is affirmed in his or her incomparable dignity.

As we can see, the Holy Father (not for the first time) calls for a great strategy for protection of life and summons us to undertake this mission, on which the future of Europe depends. It seems that the emphasis on the promotion of life is to make Europeans aware of the diminishning of its value and, what follows, of the unwillingness to give life and in consequence the perspective of the extinction of European nations.
I would like to devote my speech to reflecting upon the above quoted words of the Holy Father, trying to answer the following questions:
.Why does Europe need the promotion of life?
.Why is Europe dying out?
How can life be promoted in Europe?

I. Why does Europe need the promotion of life?

Why does the Holy Father put such an emphasis on the promotion of life? The answer to this question does not seem difficult. An average European family (including a Polish family) does not want the trouble associated with giving birth to and bringing up children, which results in the painful fact that Europeans are becoming extinct. Without promotion of life the issue of Europe’s future may become a purely theoretical one, and within the years to come, with the lack of the “Europeans of tomorrow”, the issue may become just aimless.
Here are several facts to back the above words: fertility rate, i.e. the number of children per a statistical European woman of childbearing age, is now 1.5. It is the lowest in Spain and Italy (1.1), the highest – in Ireland (1.8). In Poland, in 2002, it was 1.29. Societies reproduce, in other words: are not dying, when the fertility rate exceeds 2.1. As we can see, the replacement of generations in European countries is currently between 52% and 86%.
Accordingg to the long-term forecasts published by the Population Department of the UN Economic and Social Council, if the fertility rate continues to be so low (and there is nothing to indicate it will increase, on the contrary – it seems to have a falling tendency), in 50 years the number of Europeans will drop to ¾ of the current number, in 100 years – to one half, and in 200 years – to ¼ of the current population. Therefore Europeans will be reduced to a minority, with no significance in the world. The forecasts for the countries with the lowest fertility rate – Spain, Italy and Poland – are even more dramatic. According to the UN forecasts, in the year 2300 their population will drop to the level of several percent of the current number, while the number of Germans, for example, will be reduced to the population of today’s Berlin.
Another, perhaps even more serious result of the low fertility rate is rapid ageing of societies, with all the associated negative consequences. This phenomenon is well illustrated by the so called population pyramids. Here are population pyramids for some European countries:


Population ageing is related to the imbalance between different age groups in the society. For example, the population in Poland nowadays is 38.2 mln people, 28% of which are children and youths under 18, and 14% are people of retirement age. The age median (the age above which and below which there is 50% of the Polish population) is about 36 years at the moment (this value in the world is 26 years). In 25 years, according to the forecast of the Main Statistical Office (GUS), there will be 35.7 mln Poles; under 18s will constitute only 16% of this number, and elderly people of retirement age – almost 27%! The age median will move to the level of almost 50 years. It means that in 2030 almost half of Poles will be over 50! As we can see, the number of old age pensioners and the related expenses of the budget will double. It is hard to imagine the pension system not cracking down in such a situation.
Ageing of societies and the resulting necessity to support the growing number of the retired by a declinig population of the young leads to economic recession (high taxes are necessary to support old people) and deep socio-economic crisis. All of this will happen to Europe in the nearest future. The only solution is to open the borders to accept labour force from outside Europe, which can finally result in a situation that Europeans will constitute a minority in Europe.
Therefore, without radical and immediate changes, Europe understood as a cultural and spiritual heritage, or in other words: Europe seen as the nations inhabiting the European continent and carrying this heritage, or yet differently: EUROPE OF THE SPIRIT, is doomed to unevitable annihilation within one or two generations.

II. Why is Europe dying out?
Pondering over the reason of such a profound crisis that can lead to the end of everything we understand as Europe, it is easy to see that this reason is the universal approval of violating the inborn rights of the person and the family, including the fundamental right to life. Europeans do not want to bear children, family and children as a value have receded to the background. Whole societies reject these values on which “spiritual Europe” was founded.
But why is the culture of death so deeply rooted on our continent? The answer to this question is not an easy one. A clergyman will say it is because contemporary Europeans have turned away from God – the source and giver of life; a philosopher will prefer to talk about the loss of the meaning of life; a sociologist will point to the change of the system of values and lifestyle, the utilitarian and hedonistic approach; someone else will blame the sexual revolution, mass use of contaceptives nad the related culture of death. Apart from these reasons, European attitudes reluctant towards right to life are influenced by the EU socio-economic policy.
The EU policy, directed against family, and the anti-family attitude of the EU as a whole, weakens and destroys the family, which is the only source of life. Here are some of the activities having a direct negative impact on the family:
.More and more effective attempts to take the monopoly for reproduction (given by God) away from the family by accepting and supporting methods of artificial reproduction;
.Encouraging the family to destroy its own fertility by distributing, subsidizing and promoting contraceptives, early abortion pills and sterilization;
.Forcing the ideology of „free choice” and “reproduction rights” which make abortion, i.e. killing one’s own child, a person’s right and so make the state responsible for ensuring a free access to abortion;
.Weakening the institution of marriage and family by legalizing and giving family rights to informal relationships and relationships of partners of the same sex, as well as supporting single mothers through a system of reliefs and benefits not available to normal families;
.Promoting promiscuous lifestyle among children and teenagers with the help of programs of sexual education present at schools and in the mass media, often under the pretext of the necessity to fight against AIDS.

It is worth to emphasize the aforementioned programs are realized with the tax payer’s money; in other words, families, paying taxes, finance mechanisms that are directed against them. We also have to be aware that despite the formal declaration of the EU of not interfering with home policies of memeber states concerning moral issues, both the European Parliament and the European Comission are using different forms of pressure to force member states to lead common policy directed against family and against the right to life. The effects of this anti-family policy can be seen in the statistics:
. In the EU there are over one million surgical abortions performed every year. The umber does not include the so called chemical abortions induced by the more and more widely used early abortion pills;
. Each year the number of divorces and extramarital relationships increases – at present in the EU for every 1000 marriages there are 300 divorces (230 in Poland).
. 25% of children living in the EU are brought up outside marriage (by a single parent or in informal relationships). 15 years ago this percentage was 10%. The number differs from one member stste to another – e.g. in Sweden the percentage of children from broken families is 55%, in France – 43%, in Italy – 9%, and in Greece – only 4%. In Poland 13% of children is brought up by single parents, while 42% of first-borns are conceived before the wedding;
. 70% of women in Europe use contaceptives or early abortion pills.

According to Robert Gilder, a well-known US economist, whose book „Riches and Poverty” became an economic Bible for many American politicians (e.g. Ronald Reagan), family, beside work and faith, is one of the most important sources of welfare of the whole society.
Rejecting faith, destroying family and putting too much taxation on work, Europe is in fact destroying its sources of welfare and dooms itself to failure in the competition with other economies of the world. In this context, the proudly accepted strategies (e.g. Lisbon strategy) aiming at making the EU an economic superpower able to compete with the USA, have no chance to succeed and only prove the megalomania of their authors.
We have to be aware of all of these issues, in order not to be deceived by the perspective of bright future promised to us by all sorts of EU politicians and activists. The completely ignore the fact that the development and welfare of the European society depends not on the omnipresent bureaucracy, regulations, licences, restructurings etc., interfering with almost every sphere of life (which adds to the stifling of economy), but on the strong family, aware of its rights and duties.
It is worth to quote here once again „Ecclesia in Europa” in which the Holy Father appeals to the states and the EU for a far-sighted policy, promoting such conditions of housing, work and social services that would favour starting a family and devoting oneself to parenthood, and also giving today’s Europe the most valuable potential: the Europeans of tomorrow.

III. How can life be promoted in Europe?
1. On the EU level, by electing adequate politicians to the European Parliament and cooperating with pro-family non-governmanetal organizations from all over Europe. The scope of this activities includes:
. Speaking up for recognizing the right to life for all Europeans, independently of age, health, social status, from the conception until natural death;
.Strongly opposing experiments on human embryos, including killing human embryos to get the so called mother cells;
. Demanding to stop the financing by the member states of population control programs (promoting abortion, contaceptives, sterilization) in the third world countries;
. Aiming at a radical change of socio-economic policy of the EU, in the direction of strengthening the significance of the family as the subject of the social policy of the state. This must be connected with such changes of the taxation system that would appreciate and reward the effort of families bringing up and supporting children.
2. On the national and local level:
. Udertaking efforts for legal and social regulations supprting the family, both on the national and local government level;
. Opposing all activities directed against life and family;
. Promoting family life in one’s own environment, also by showing the value and beauty of parenthood (e.g. a leaflet “10 important reasons why it is worth to have another child”);
. Organizing aid for families in need (e.g. the program of support for numerous families FAMILY PATRONAGE).

This strategy of protecting life can succeed, provided that many different circles and people of good will be involved in these activities. It is not an easy task and achiving some of the above aims may take a long time. But if we want EUROPE OF THE SPIRIT to survive, there is no alternative.

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