The message was delivered in Italian, but by 2050, will anyone in Italy understand why Italians lost their country?
Monsignor Carlo Liberati, Catholic Archbishop Emeritus of Pompeii, groused recently that Islam would soon become the main religion in Europe. The reason? “Our stupidity,” the archbishop said.
Liberati blamed four modern trends on the continent for the eventuality. First, he said, was the fact that Europe’s Christians practiced “a weak Christian faith.” If Christianity is not lived in holiness and power, how can it impact the culture around it?
Second, he blamed the dominance of a non-Christian worldview. The majority in Europe “live in a pagan and atheist way,” he said. “They make laws that go against God, and they have traditions that are proper of paganism. All of this moral and religious decadence favors Islam.”
How so? It is a rottenness that eats away at the foundations of Western civilization. William Reville, professor emeritus of biochemistry and public awareness of science at University College Cork in the U.K., said that our civilization was “under internal assault from postmodern intellectual elites and their acolytes in the mass media, who enthusiastically embrace moral and cultural relativism, multiculturalism and political correctness, and attack our values and weaken our will.”
The archbishop also blamed Europe’s immigration policies. Hundreds of thousands of primarily Muslim immigrants have been streaming into Europe in recent years. According to BBC news, more than a million primarily Muslim migrants and refugees entered the continent in 2015 alone.
Finally, Liberati pointed to the demographic differences between the practitioners of the two rival faiths: “They have children, and we do not,” he said. “We are in full decline.”
This fourth trend, especially as related to a falling European birth rate, is not only troubling but also potentially catastrophic. As writer Mark Steyn has said,“Much of what we loosely call the Western world will not survive this century, and much of it will effectively disappear within our lifetimes, including many if not most Western European countries.”
Called “demographic winter,” the term is rooted in a fairly simple rule for any nation or people group: If more people die each year than are born, your population is shrinking.
For any population to remain stable, it must maintain a birth rate of 2.1 births per woman of childbearing age. That rate provides a replacement for both mother and father, while the .1 covers infant and child mortality. When the birth rate falls below that number, a population goes into decline.
Alejandro Macarrón, a Spanish business consultant, was startled after he began investigating his own country’s demographics.
“I was astonished,” he said. “We have provinces in Spain where for every baby born, more than two people die. And the ratio is moving closer to one to three.”
The fertility rate in Spain is 1.27 children born for every woman of childbearing age – nearly a full point below the replacement rate.
Spain is not alone. In Liberati’s Italy, the fertility rate has fallen precipitously in over 40 years – from 2.37 in 1970 to 1.39 in 2013. The average fertility rate for the entire European Union is 1.55.
According to U.N. figures and other projections, Patrick Buchanan stated in his book, The Death of the West, that by 2050, Europe (from Iceland to Russia) will see its population drop from 728 million (in 2000) to 600 million – and perhaps 556 million. And if current trends continue, by the end of the century Europe’s population will stand at 207 million.
Sociologist Ben Wattenberg, author of Fewer: How the New Demography of Depopulation Will Shape Our Future, puts this “birth dearth” in historical perspective. “Never in the last 650 years, since the time of the Black Plague, have birth and fertility rates fallen so far, so fast, so low, for so long, in so many places.”
But since nature abhors a vacuum, an influx of Muslim immigrants is replacing the depopulation of native Europeans.
“Western Europe has gone from a Muslim population of 250,000, 50 years ago, to 20 million today,” said Don Feder, communications director for the World Congress of Families.
According to U.N. figures, with a fertility rate of 3.1, of all religions, Muslim women have the highest rate in the world. If immigration rates continue unchecked in Europe, Muslims will be over 10% of the population by 2050.
That might not seem like much, but as the number of native Europeans continues its downward trend, who will replace them? In all likelihood, it will be primarily the poorer Muslim immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa heading for a better life in Europe.
This would have a tremendous impact on the culture of the continent. “European values are not universal,” said Reville, “and there is no necessary reason to expect that other civilizations will adopt these values simply because they come to Europe to partake of the technical and commercial fruits of Western civilization.”
By dismissing the Christian faith that helped to found Western civilization, postmodern Europeans might find themselves increasingly surrounded by a far different, much less tolerant, religion.