By Elise Harris
Vatican City, Sep 14, 2015 / 03:11 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In a new, wide-ranging interview Pope Francis spoke at length of the European refugee crisis – saying that incoming migrants are now filling the void left by a sterile continent that refuses to have children.
“The migrant phenomenon is a reality…when there is an empty space, people look to fill it. If a country doesn't have children, migrants come to occupy that place,” the Pope said in a recent interview with Portugal-based Radio Renascença (Renaissance).
He referred to the staggeringly low number of births in countries such as Italy, Portugal and Spain, where the current number of births falls, he said, at “almost zero percent.”
Francis said he is no stranger to the phenomenon of not wanting to have children, and that he encountered it in his own family when some years ago his Italian cousins said they preferred to travel or buy property rather than have children.
“So, if there are no children, there are open spaces,” he said. For him personally, the societal refusal to have children is part of a “culture of ‘well-being,’” in which the assurance that one’s personal needs and wants will be taken care of is emphasized to an exaggerated degree.