Last week we covered how the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops attacked our national sovereignty and immigration law, telling us that we must accept more third world refugees because apparently it is the job of our government to protect Guatemalan women from domestic abuse (yes, seriously, that was their argument).
More recently, Pope Francis spoke up in support of the USCCB. Since we covered the religious arguments in favor of closed borders and ethnonationalism in our last article on the subject, there’s no point in reiterating them here. But there was something about the Pope’s argument for open borders that definitely deserves a response:
The pope said populists were “creating psychosis” on the issue of immigration, even as aging societies like Europe faced “a great demographic winter” and needed more immigrants.
Without immigration, he added, Europe “will become empty.”
The Pope’s argument here is: birth rates are falling, so let’s just bring in more people. What he never asks is: why are birth rates falling in Europe?
The ugly truth is that Catholic birth rates are at all-time lows. Let’s take a look at the numbers. Poland is 96% Catholic, but their birth rate is only 1.32. Croatia is 86% Catholic, but their birth rate is only 1.46. Portugal is 81% Catholic, but their birth rate is only 1.23. Lithuania is 77% Catholic, but their birth rate is only 1.63. Italy is 76.5% Catholic, but their birth rate is only 1.37. Spain is 67.4% Catholic, but their birth rate is only 1.32. This trend of low birth rates is true in almost every Catholic country in Europe.
The only predominantly Roman Catholic countries that break this trend are Ireland, which almost has replacement-level birth rates at 1.94, and France which has slightly above replacement-level birth rates at 2.01. The problem with the French birth rates, however, is that it’s not French Catholics who are driving this population growth, but rather Muslims, who have a birth rate between 3.4 and 4 compared to the native (White) French birth rate of 1.4.
As for Ireland, they just legalized abortions while the Roman Catholic Church sat on its hands and did nothing. Had the Church really wanted to, it could have used its huge organization to influence voters and turn out more conservative Catholics at the polls. But it didn’t, so now abortion is legal in Ireland and soon we can expect that birth rate of 1.94 to plummet.
Point being, Catholic Europe is dying, not as a result of some massive war or large genocide, but as the result of Catholics not having any children.
It’s easy to blame these falling birth rates on outside factors. Some blame economic conditions for falling birth rates, but this is easily disprovable. If falling birth rates are the result of weak economic conditions, then former Soviet Bloc countries like Poland, Lithuania, and Croatia would have higher birth rates now than they did under socialism, when living standards were low, unemployment and inflation were high, and families struggled to put food on the table. Yet the opposite is true: all of these countries had birth rates well above replacement levels under socialism. So birth rates and economic conditions are not intimately tied, as some would have it.
Others like to blame falling birth rates on the rise of consumerism, atheism, hedonism, and other self-destructive beliefs in the West. This definitely is true.
But we see that in Europe and America, Muslims have the highest birth rates. In America, everyone tends to have higher birth rates, but White Evangelical Christians have higher birth rates than both Mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics. This shows that religious groups can isolate themselves from cultural trends and take steps to boost their birth rates. Unfortunately, Catholics — especially European Catholics — have largely failed to do this.
This brings us to the crux of the problem: the Roman Catholic Church’s lack of moral leadership.
While the Roman Catholic Church technically bans abortion, birth control, and divorce — three policies that would significantly boost birth rates if Catholics actually followed them — the Church has done little to enforce these policies. Pope Francis notably moved to ease up on these restrictions, but the truth is that falling birth rates aren’t just his fault. Ever since Vatican II, the Church has done progressively less to enforce its social norms, leading to the phenomenon of “cafeteria Catholics” who “pick and choose” what they believe and who only go to church as a kind of social stomping ground.
Instead of strictly enforcing its own pro-natal and pro-family policies, the Church has been using its wealth and its influence to cover up its own pedophilia scandals while at the same time flooding the West with Third World immigrants. And what good has that done for Catholic faithful in the West? Not a whole lot.
Learning From The Past
This isn’t the first time that Western Civilization has gone through a period where it was seemingly dying through its own unwillingness to reproduce. As the evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson notes in Darwin’s Cathedral:
Of course, Romans had a sex drive like everyone else, but they found ways to satisfy it in ways that did not lead to reproduction like homosexuality and nonreproductive heterosexual practices. Women who did conceive often did so in circumstances that caused them to get an abortion, itself a life-threatening procedure. […] For the Romans, these practices led to a crisis of underpopulation. Julius Ceasar attempted to stimulate reproduction by awarding land to fathers of three or more children and considered legislation outlawing celibacy. Similar policies were attempted by subsequent emperors but to no avail. According to Boak (1955; discussed in Stark, 116), “[policies with] the aim of encouraging families to rear at least three children were pathetically impotent.” By the start of the Christian era, the Roman population had started to decline, even during the good times between plagues, and required a constant influx of “barbarian” settlers to maintain itself.
Ancient Romans, just like Westerners today, were too decadent and too degenerate to have children. Instead, they promoted homosexuality, abortion, and birth control — exactly what the West is doing today.
Just like how some Western countries today have tried to promote birth rates through financial incentives — the United States, France, and Poland come to mind — Rome tried its best to promote birth rates too. Their programs failed, just as ours are failing today.
And just like the West today, Rome began to demographically replace itself with “barbarian settlers,” a.k.a. immigrants, just to ensure a constant supply of workers, soldiers, and so on.
But while the Roman Empire collapsed, the people who lived in it eventually went on to form what today is called Western Civilization. This is something that Westerners today can learn from.
So what is it that produced moral and demographic regeneration for Western peoples? A new religion that was extremely pro-natal and pro-family. As David Sloan Wilson noted in Darwin’s Cathedral:
In contrast, the Christian religion, like the Jewish religion from which it was derived, expected marriage, abundant children, and fidelity in both sexes while outlawing abortion, infanticide, and nonreproductive sexual practices. When stated as a religious imperative and enforced by the social control mechanisms that come naturally to small encapsulated groups, Christianity succeeded at changing reproductive behavior as Roman law never could. Christian women raised more babies than their pagan counterparts.
It was the pro-natal focus of Christianity that allowed Christians to reproduce above replacement levels and revitalize what once was the Roman Empire. This aspect of Early Christianity might seem completely alien to us today, when we see that Protestant churches have lesbian bishops while the Roman Catholic Church does nothing to enforce its own pro-natal rules.
But at the time, Christians were obsessed with reproduction and discouraging birth control.
For example, Clement of Alexandria wrote in 195 AD, “because of its divine institution for the propagation of man, the seed is not to be vainly ejaculated, nor is it to be damaged, nor is it to be wasted” (The Instructor of Children 2:10:91:2).
Around 307 Lactantius wrote about how some “complain of the scantiness of their means, and allege that they have not enough for bringing up more children, as though, in truth, their means were in [their] power . . . or God did not daily make the rich poor and the poor rich. Wherefore, if any one on any account of poverty shall be unable to bring up children, it is better to abstain from relations with his wife” (Divine Institutes 6:20).
St. Augustine wrote in 419, “I am supposing, then, although you are not lying [with your wife] for the sake of procreating offspring, you are not for the sake of lust obstructing their procreation by an evil prayer or an evil deed. Those who do this, although they are called husband and wife, are not; nor do they retain any reality of marriage, but with a respectable name cover a shame. Sometimes this lustful cruelty, or cruel lust, comes to this, that they even procure poisons of sterility [oral contraceptives]” (Marriage and Concupiscence 1:15:17).
This focus on encouraging reproduction continued for well over a thousand years. Even Martin Luther and John Calvin wrote about the sin of “Onanism,” that is the sin of using of birth control — named after the Biblical story of Onan, whom God slayed for using birth control in Genesis 38:8-10.
As Martin Luther wrote, “[T]he exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches . . . is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her—that is, he lies with her and copulates—and, when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime. . . . Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore, God punished him” (Commentary on Genesis).
And as John Calvin wrote, “The voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous. For this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring” (Commentary on Genesis).
Yet today, many Protestants are openly promoting homosexuality and birth control while the Roman Catholic Church does nothing to prevent these practices. And as a result, we’re suffering from a “demographic winter,” as the Pope calls it.