Pope Francis at birthrate conference

Italian Birthrate Conference is proving divisive


The ‘States General on Natality’, or birthrate conference, in Rome is proving divisive. On Thursday, the Family Minister was shouted down during her speech, this was followed by clashes with police outside the conference centre on Friday.

Pope Francis said on Friday that mothers must not be put in a position in which they have to choose between their jobs or their children at the ‘States General’ conference in Rome on reversing the decline in the birth rate here.

The falling birth rate must be tackled with a “long-term vision”, the Argentine pontiff said.

“Effective policies and courageous, concrete and long-term decisions are urgently needed at the institutional level,” the pope said. “There is a need for greater commitment by all governments, so that the younger generations are put in the condition to be able to realise their legitimate dreams.

“That is why it is necessary to put a mother in the condition of not having to choose between work and childcare; and to free many young couples from the weight of job insecurity and the impossibility of buying a house”.

The pope also took a swipe at the contraceptives industry.

“A demographer told me that now the investments that generate the most revenue are in arms production and contraceptives,” he said. “One destroys life, the other prevents life.

“It’s bad that these are the investments that generate the most income”.

Family Minister shouted down during speech

On Thursday Family and Equal Opportunities Minister Eugenia Roccella abandoned her speech at the same conference due to a protest by mostly female high-school pro-choice protesters.

 The Italian government recently passed a measure to allow pro-life activists access to abortion clinics.

President Sergio Mattarella and Premier Giorgia Meloni expressed solidarity for Roccella afterwards.

Police clash with protestors

On Friday, four police officers were hurt in clashes with protesters trying to get into the birthrate conference as Pope Francis was about to make his speech.

One of the protesters, a young woman, was hit on the head and taken away in an ambulance.

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