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Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI beatified Eurosia Fabris, known as "Mamma Rosa", an Italian woman who raised 11 children--nine of them her own. In the Catholic Church, beatification is the last formal step before sainthood.

Mamma Rosa's beatification is part of the Vatican's latest campaign--namely, encouraging couples to raise large families. Several days earlier, the pope praised such families and called for countries to approve legislation and other incentives to help them. He has described large families as useful witnesses to "faith, courage and optimism" in society.

Even if you don't think the Earth is overpopulated as it is, there are a couple of disturbing aspects to the pope's "be fruitful and multiply" campaign.

To begin with, there are racist undertones. The average European woman has 1.5 children; and, strangely, the fertility rate is even lower in the traditionally Catholic countries of Italy and Spain. Some figures on the European Right warn that unless white couples have more children, they will be outnumbered by Muslims. In this country, Pat Buchanan has said in so many words that unless white couples have more children, our culture will drown in a wave of foreigners.

There's another problem with the pope's message: he'd like to see couples who raise large families get tax breaks and other financial incentives. But where does one draw the line between incentives and fiscal coercion? Tax breaks for children could in effect become a surtax on the unmarried and childless. Incentives also could open the door to even worse measures: a ban on abortion, restrictions on contraception, and even higher barriers to women going to college and working.

Prediction: Low birth rates will become the Right's next big battle in the Culture Wars.

Originally posted to Dump Terry McAuliffe on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 07:50 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've done my part, damnit! (4.00)
    His Holiness will have a member baptized early next year. If he wants me and my gf to have a lot more, he can buy our diapors!

    "We must all hang together or assuredly we will all hang seperately." - Ben Franklin

    by RandyMI on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 07:51:15 PM PST

  •  Pope (4.00)
    Well I have three kids.Two in Catholic schools,maybe Pope Benadict can help with tuition.

    Bush=determined to vacation through the apocalypse

    by kerry on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 07:53:23 PM PST

  •  The pope's right re: me... (4.00)
    I keep having cats. He'll have to deal.

    "Computer. End holographic program...Computer? Computer?"

    by kredwyn on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 07:54:53 PM PST

  •  There may be a more parochial explanation (none)
    The Catholic Church is running out of Catholics.  As I recall, the only place where Catholicism is growing is South America.  In other parts of the world, the numbers of Catholics are stagnant or declining.  
    •  Good point (none)
      I believe that the fastest-growing religion in the world is Mormonism, which definitely encourages large families.
    •  That's part of the plan (none)
      Ratzinger's plan, anyway. He wants to Rovenate the church, weed out the weaklings and moderates and get down to the real hard core of crazies.

      "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin

      by Septic Tank on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:02:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ah, yes. "Rightsizing" the Church (n/t) (none)
      •  Be fruitful and multiply (4.00)
        Was a saying attributed to the Catholic Faith decades ago.  While the Pope is trying to restore some of what he feels the church has lost, some additional info on "Mamma Rosa"

        She was Venerated on 7 July 2003 by Pope John Paul II and is listed in the Patron Saint index.


        In 1885 a neighbor woman died, leaving two children under the age of two, and Rosina began caring for them. She married Carlo Barban on 5 May 1886, and the two took in the children. The couple had nine more children of their own, and their home became a gathering place for all the children of the village; Eurosia received the new nickname of Mamma Rosa. Three of her sons became priests, and one of them was her biographer. Along with her endless work load as a mother, Rosa managed to maintain a deep prayer life. She was the core of her family in both spiritual and practical matters, and was known for her charity to the poor, feeding the hungry and nursing the sick.

        We don't remember days only moments

        by psyche777 on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:03:40 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Does she have a miracle? (none)
          Don't ya need one miracle for beatification and another for sainthood?
          •  She stayed sane with all those kids (none)
            Just kidding.

            There's nine kids in my family (I have three older brothers and an older sister, and three younger brothers and a younger sister). Remembering our antics as children, I have no idea how Mom managed to survive it. Heck, I don't know how she survives us as adults! We may have aged, but the "growing up" part is highly debatable. LOL

            One goose, fully cooked. One gander, gun to his head.

            by PatsBard on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 11:42:42 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

    •  Genesis 1:28 (none)
      And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

      "Make more of us. Have dominion. Subdue. And that birth control thing? Very bad." That's always been the message.


      "Compassionate Conservatives are a lot like jackalopes. I've seen photos of them, but I still don't believe they exist."

      by ZombieOne on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:13:11 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's growing in Africa too (none)
      I think it might actually stagnant in South America as the evangelicals and pentacostals have been poaching the faithful away.  But still it's in decline everywhere else.
      •  also (4.00)
        in India.

        It's basically growing in the third world and declining in EU/USA/CAN and other rich white countries.

        I think it's because the Catholic church, which may be considered traditionalist in regard to family matters, is on the other hand a big champion of economically exploited and poor people.

        In India much of the growth of Catholocism comes from what the Dalit castes (previously know as untouchables).  The local priests not only provide religious services, but are community leaders who provide all kinds of safety net services in poor communities where the government does next to nothing, as well as fighting corruption and official mistreatement of poor people. Catholic organizations also organize womens community groups which fight on behalf of women rights and economic independece.

        It's a different paradigm with different priorities in the developing countries, and the Catholic Church plays a very positive role to champion poor people in a lot of these countries.

        "Remember, we are here but by the grace of plate tectonics... Just some perspective, apply it to your idealogies as you will." -- read in a comment by roboton

        by DoDi on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:10:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Africa (4.00)
      South America is actually losing many Catholics to fundamentalists who are actively "recruiting" from the Catholics (and who more often than not are sponsored by American churches).  The African church is exploding, which is causing problems in Rome because many of the bishops look the other way regarding priestly celibacy (which is totally foreign to many African cultures) and contraception (HIV/AIDS).

      "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." - Reinhold Niebuhr

      by Mahanoy on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:00:29 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  well (none)
    Although I can see how there would be racist overtones in that, especially considering how that is a prime argument of neo-nazis and white supremacists, I think the the Pope is more worried precisely about those formerly staunchy Catholic countries having a low birth rate because not having children usually equates to a more secular society, and one is more indulged in one's own dreams and goals--so we become more materialistic, selfish etc...all aspects that conservative religions see as "bad." Maybe I'm wrong, who knows...but I think it has more to do with people not having children = less religious, more secular.


    by michael1104 on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 07:57:11 PM PST

  •  Fine. He can pay for day care (4.00)
    After all, someone'll have to take care of the kids while we're out promoting contraception, abortion and the gay agenda.

    "Those who would give up essential liberty, to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin

    by Septic Tank on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:00:19 PM PST

  •  And how many kids does Pat Buchanan have? (none)
    You guessed it: ZERO!

    I am an ILL State Assassin. Legalize Qualo. Those in Chicago - listen to Boers & Bernstein on 670 AM The Score 2-6 M-F. You'll be glad you did. Vote Hackett

    by Larry Horse on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:01:13 PM PST

  •  I have plenty of kids (none)
    but the RCC won't be getting their hands on any of 'em.
  •  Ratzinger, the reactionary, (4.00)
    will take the Roman Church back to 1955 if he has the chance.  He damn near, single handedly, derailed international interfaith dialogue with his Dominus Iesus letter.  My sympathies to my Roman Catholic compadres who have to deal with this jerk.  We're watching your back as well as we can.
    •  A friend of mine says this (none)
      Any day now, Pope Benedict will unleash a pedantic, 800-page encyclical letter on a variety of subjects. He follows Church politics, and his predictions tend to be spot-on.
      •  When you hear more (none)
        I'd like to know about it.  This guy scares me.  We've made terrific progress interfaith and ecumenical relations. Anything he does to undercut the work needs to be read thoroughly by the entire interfaith community.
    •  the Catholic Church has survived (none)
      a lot worse popes than Ratzinger and I suppose we'll survive him too.

      We Catholics tend to take a long view of things.

      "Remember, we are here but by the grace of plate tectonics... Just some perspective, apply it to your idealogies as you will." -- read in a comment by roboton

      by DoDi on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:13:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  The RC Wedding Vows I Hear (4.00)
    when I'm a musician at many ceremonies includes the words "accept children from God."

    I'm no specialist on the Church, but obviously there's much more behind this philosophy than just the current Pope.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy....--ML King, "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:13:26 PM PST

  •  Already there (none)
    Prediction: Low birth rates will become the Right's next big battle in the Culture Wars.

    It already IS! Attacks on Abortion, Plan B, EC, feminism, homosexuality. The common thread in all of these is that they frustrate reproduction.

    The radical right want women to become incubators, just like in the good old days. No doubt about it.

  •  So does secular France - is it a big deal? (4.00)
    "The French government has pledged more money for families with three children, in an effort to encourage working women to have more babies.

    France already has a generous childcare system, which has resulted in a birth rate of 1.9 children per family, well above the EU average of 1.5.

    But the government is worried that many middle-class professional women put off child-bearing until their late 20s.

    The new financial incentives encourage families to have a third child.

    "The family has changed," Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin, himself a father of three, told a conference on the family.

    "But it remains at the very heart of French society. It is a source of joy, of comfort, and a haven for its members. That is why we are announcing measures to help families in their everyday lives."  link and Google link

    ...with night falling, and down to his last flair, can Armando keep the coyotes at bay?...

    by PhillyGal on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:15:24 PM PST

  •  The interesting question... (4.00)
    Is that we'll have to deal with encouraging reproduction in general; which isn't really a shock, pregnancy sucks after all.  That said, the Australian government did put forward some initiatives to encourage couples to have children, and the Japanese are currently struggling to figure out how to deal with their plummeting birthrates.  Towns with diminishing populations are becoming economic sinks, and there's been actual discussion about relaxing some of their (fabulously racist) immigration restrictions.

    Course, in a decentralized information economy where you don't depend on the family unit for support, there's even less impetus to have children - they're nothing but an economic drain for the parents and you can't put 'em out to work on the famr.

    I'm not big on the term "overpopulation" since it always implies to me that there's some kind of number ordained by nature that we'll live happily at, as opposed to, you know, the normal population control measures like plague or predation - nature ain't particularly benevolent.  Our entire economic system is more or less predicated on constant growth (case in point for us: retirement funding as it stands right now requires a larger working than retiree population), and these types of issues are going to keep coming up as we acquire finer control over our ability to reproduce.  

    •  Some believe (none)
      That the Earth's population is much higher than the planet's "carrying capacity" (I've seen estimates as low as a billion) and that we've relied on fossil fuels to sustain a much larger number. James Kunstler's "The Long Emergency," for instance, makes that argument.
      •  I'm sorry, but Kunstler's a crank (4.00)
        I spent a good part of 1999 talking people out of the trees about Y2K (I knew somebody who, I shit you not, tried to install a fireplace in a 4th story condo in Florida), folks who were maxing out their credit cards buying guns, MRE's and home generators, and Kunstler was the one that everybody on the left was quoting.

        I know I'm inviting myself to flamewar grande by saying this, but Kunstler latches onto anything he thinks is going to yield apocalypse and starts predicting the end of suburbia and his major schadenfreude from there.  He did the exact same thing with Y2K.  He's really, to me, the best example of how you don't find pessimistic prophets of doom - he's got this bright no-suburbia petroleum-free future, and he's really really sorry for all the suffering and death its going to cause for the masses, but that's okay, because it'll be better in the end.  The same way that Jack Van Impe feels sorry for the unsaved.

        In that respect (poking through what I find on his website), he's making a moral argument and wrapping it in a physical skein so he can make the same conclusions he did about Y2K - because that's all he's interested in.  Hell, I don't like suburbia myself, but that doesn't change the fact that all he's done is slot in a new premise to fit the same conclusion - which should say something about the conclusion.

        •  I take my Kunstler with many grains of salt (none)
          In "The Long Emergency," he supported the Iraq war even though the WMD weren't there. In effect, he said that the Middle East is a "bad neighborhood" that needs U.S. troops to police it.
        •  the difference is... (4.00)

          Y2K was fixable, and it was largely fixed.  By legions of geeks working their butts off, 80-hour weeks, during the last couple of years.  

          And what thanks did we get for it?  Zero.  What we got instead was high unemployment during the dotcom crash, and the public running around saying the problem wasn't real.  I suppose we could have perdicted that too, after all, when was the last time anyone thought about the plagues that have been prevented by vaccination?  

          Yes, Kunstler hypes problems.  No, that doesn't mean the problems don't exist.  

          And prevention never gets the credit it deserves; far more exciting to have a nice big dramatic emergency (and then pass another Patriot Act).  

          Realistically what you can expect from Peak Oil is a long nasty recession lasting until replacement energy sources come on line.  This is something the Ds could turn into a platform issue:

          The money spent to date on the Iraq war could have built about 240 gigawatts (240,000 megawatts) of clean wind, nuclear, and solar power, conservation & efficiency measures, and so on.  Money spent building clean energy & doing conservation retrofits, also supports good jobs at dignified wages, strengthens unions, and puts more spending-power into the economy where it will do some real good.  

          This needs to be in the campaign, relentlessly: we could have had energy independence and solved peak oil, instead we have a stinking quagmire based on lies.  

  •  I think the Pope should make a video... (4.00)
    "Better Sex, More Sex - The Easiest Way to Heaven"

    With the Pope citing more exciting positions that offer better opportunities for egg fertilization.

    He could narrate.  I'm tellin' ya', it'd be a winner!

    Is Dick Cheney in favor of torturing Scooter Libby in order to get "actionable intelligence?"

    by Bob Johnson on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:30:03 PM PST

  •  I'm Catholic and I always wanted a big family (4.00)
    There were three kids in my family, and I was always jealous of those enormous families at Catholic school and at church. They didn't have that much money, but they all made do.

    I still plan to have as many children as I can afford, but I'm thinking one or two of my own and adopt the rest.

    Why doesn't Pope Benedict encourage Catholics to take care of children that are already here?

    I'm pro la raza sayin "fuck la migra" and I love The Coup

    by oakland dem on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:33:40 PM PST

  •  tell the sonofabitch to let his employees (none)
    have children.

    or he can kiss my ass, whichever.

    "Fitz, don't fail me now !!" ~~Mantan Moreland, bug-eyed actor in "King of the Zombies", 1941

    by seesdifferent on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 08:41:44 PM PST

  •  There is another aspect (none)
    that is being overlooked here.  The beatification of "Mamma Rosa" sends a very clear message to Catholic women: a holy woman, a woman deserving of admiration and adoration, is a woman who stays at home, raises children, and cares for her husband.  A "good" Catholic woman, in this view, does not hold a full-time job outside the home, desiring an independent and meaningful life on her own terms.

    There are connections here to the resurgence in the modern cult of Mary, beginning with John Paul II.  Mary as the prototypical holy woman to be emulated and revered.  The closer a woman approximates Mary's example, the holier she is.  The further she deviates from that example, the further she is from "true womanhood".

    The beatification of Mamma Rosa only perpetuates the patriarchal dominance of the Roman Catholic Church.

    "Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible; but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary." - Reinhold Niebuhr

    by Mahanoy on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 09:08:45 PM PST

  •  You know the could attract more people... (4.00)

    If they started special and not quite so cumbersome Immigration programs for all the diaffected and unhappy folks from the US and a few other places that wanted to come and live there. But that's just my thought. You could have a population boom. If you had jobs and broke open the good old boys club that some of those European nations are when it comes to getting jobs....

  •  the Pope should visit Los Angeles (none)
    and he might change his mind.
  •  someone should ask him point blank: (none)

    "How many people can the world support?"

    What's the maximum possible population on planet Earth?   What do we need in order to assure that all of those people have food, clothing, shelter, medical care, education, etc.?  

    Press him on the answers.  No evasions, no excuses.  

  •  Population growth rates come under (none)
    control when women are educated. Secularism also rears its gorgeous head where people are educated.
    Oh yeah, infant survival too. As a lapsed, relapsed, prolapsed, recovering Cat I have the right to tell Benny Rats to go screw himself.
  •  It's always the same (4.00)
    Foreigners!!!  We'll be drowning in foreigners!  They breed like rats!

    Irish, Germans, Chinese, Italians, Mexicans, Pakistanis...Catholics, Jews,'s always the same...the fear that they will soon outnumber us in our own country.  And it's always the same bullshit because we are a country of immigrants, a nation built by them and their descendants.

    Helping people raise families is good, but the "Breed for the good of the country!" thing is a little creepy.

  •  You (4.00)
    first Mr. Pope.  When you raise a large family and allow priests to marry and raise their own families, then will the people take you serious on this. (Wait no we won't)

    Fight. Just Fight. Fight until you feel you have nothing left. Then fight some more.

    by EMKennedyLucio on Sun Nov 06, 2005 at 10:57:19 PM PST

  •  Great... (4.00)
    Like I need some guy in a funny hat telling me I'm not getting laid enough.
  •  Hitler was pro-family (none)
    The right sort, of course. Having children for the fatherland was strongly promoted.

    So that's quite the group - Hitler, Ratzinger, . . .

    unbossed investigative blogging

    by shirah on Mon Nov 07, 2005 at 03:49:02 AM PST

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