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Pope Francis expresses concern about falling birth rates in modern world

(Reuters/Max Rossi)Pope Francis leads the opening mass for the synod of bishops on the family at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican October 3, 2015.

Pope Francis has expressed concern about the collapse of birth rates in many modern nations, and he has reminded faithful Catholics that God's first commandment to man was to "be fruitful and multiply."

In his homily during mass at the Casa Santa Marta, Francis noted that infertility is considered in the ancient world as a curse, while fecundity is seen as a blessing. He lamented that many countries today "have chosen the path of sterility and suffer from that grave disease that is a demographic winter."

The pope asserted that many couples today refrain from having children for fear of undermining their own "well-being." He said that this would result in "countries empty of children" adding that "this is not a blessing."

He stressed that "fruitfulness is a blessing of God," whether it is material or spiritual, because all people are called to give life in some way.

"We too, priests and religious men and women, do not get married, but woe to us if we are not fruitful with good works, if we do not bring fruitfulness to the people of God. Fruitfulness is a sign of God," he contended.

The pontiff further warned that collapsing birth rates is part of Satan's deliberate plans. "The devil wants infertility. He does not want us to give life, be it physical or spiritual, to others," he said, as reported by Church Militant.

The pope's warnings follow the release of a recent report by Demographic Intelligence, which showed that the birthrate in the U.S. is expected to fall to a 30-year low of 1.77 children per woman in 2017, which is below the replacement value of roughly 2.1.

The report further noted that U.S. births are down "markedly" in 2017, despite a thriving economy and higher employment among young adults. It is expected that U.S. births will likely fall to about 3.84 million in 2017, which is a drop of about 2.8 percent from the 3.95 million births in 2016.

Other countries that have birth rates below or near replacement level include Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Iran, Russia, Hong Kong, Macau, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan.

European nations are also experiencing low birth rates even among predominantly Catholic countries.

According to Church Militant, none of the European Union's 28 member states has a birth rate at the replacement level, and among the countries with the lowest fertility rates are the predominantly Catholic nations of Portugal, Spain, Italy and Ireland.

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