By Fr. George Welzbacher
July 3, 2011
As the Fourth of July approaches, we should earnestly pray for our country, asking God to bring us as a nation back to Him. In particular we ought to take to heart our Lord's admonition: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His justice, and all of these other things will be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33). The formula for restoring national prosperity and vigor is taking seriously the ten commandments. The converse is similarly true. As a Jewish convert to Catholicism, the distinguished psychiatrist Karl Stern, pointed out sixty years ago in his fascinating book Pillar of Fire, Our Lord's warning: "Without Me you can do NOTHING" reminds us that in repudiating Christ, a society is calling down upon itself its own destruction, it is "doing," i.e., creating, "nothingness", devastation, desolation, disintegration, where before there was abundance. Newsreel coverage from the close of World War II (often shown on the History Channel) exhibiting Nazi Germany's "Thousand Year" Reich reduced to smoldering ruins imparts to this prophecy a spectacular vindication.
Visually less spectacular but comparable in its destructive force is today's DEMOGRAPHIC collapse of once Christian Europe. The scarcity of babies born to the indigenous population of Europe, weighed in the balance against an immense influx of Muslim immigrants with a very high birth-rate, constitutes an immediate threat to the financial viability of Europe's welfare state and a long-range threat to the continuation of Europe as Europe. The generous program of benefits received by a top-heavy population of retirees is financed by the taxes paid by far too few young (skilled) workers. and the imbalance in the comparative birthrate makes plausible the prospect that in another thirty years or so at least Western Europe may well be Muslim, with all that that will entail in the transformation of Europe's traditional way of life.
Here in the U.S.A. a plunge in the birth-rate among "natural-born" Americans is partially offset by continuing waves of Hispanic immigrants, cherishing cultural values that are vastly more assimilable to our American way of life than are the cultural values of Europe's Muslim immigrants. But here, too, the problems now facing our Social Security system are related to the disproportion between the number of young workers supporting the system with their taxes today and the number of older beneficiaries, which in turn is a function of the dramatic decline in our national birth rate as the contraceptive mentality has taken hold. Far more alarming still is the spectacular increase in the percentage of American children now born out of wedlock, a situation that all but guarantees that those children will receive little if any character training inculcating discipline, hard work, and serious study. This is a formula for social (as well as individual) catastrophe.
Add to this the withering away in recent years in the willingness of far too many young Americans and Europeans to make the kind of life-long commitment that marriage entails, with the corresponding rise of cohabitation as the new "norm", with all of its inherent instability and consequent disadvantage for children born into such an environment. This does not bode well for our nation's future. All this of course is quite apart from the infinitely more important question: the consequences of contraception and cohabitation for the eternal fate of immortal souls.
* * * * *In Croatia, Pope Urges Commitment to Marriage, Children
Star Tribune, June 5, 2011
ZAGREB, CROATIA - Pope Benedict wrapped up his visit to Croatia on Sunday by denouncing the disintegration of family life in Europe and calling for couples to make a commitment to marry and have children, not just live together.
Benedict stressed traditional Catholic family values, including opposition to abortion, during an open-air Mass attended by about 400,000 people at Zagreb's hippodrome, the highlight of his trip to mark the local church's national day of families.
The faithful, who came from across Croatia and surrounding countries, arrived before dawn at a field muddied by overnight thunderstorms.
The sun shone through the clouds in the morning as Benedict celebrated Mass before a crowd of faithful whose numbers exceeded estimates of 300,000 and whose devotion seemed to deeply impress the pontiff...
It was Benedict's first visit as pope to Croatia, an overwhelmingly Catholic Balkan nation that is poised to soon join the European Union. The Vatican has strongly supported its bid, eager to see another country with shared values join the 27-member bloc and help Benedict's project of rekindling Europe's sense of its Christian heritage.
Yet while Croatia is nearly 90 percent Catholic, it allows some legal rights for same-sex couples and, thanks to Communist-era legislation, permits abortion up to 10 weeks after conception and thereafter with the consent of a special commission of doctors. Elsewhere in Europe, Italy included, marriages are on the decline as more and more people choose to just live together.
In his homily -- delivered mostly in Italian and translated into Croatian -- Benedict lamented the "increasing disintegration of the family, especially in Europe" and urged young couples to resist "that secularized mentality which proposes living together as a preparation, or even a substitute, for marriage."
"Do not be afraid to make a commitment to another person!" he said.
He urged parents to affirm the inviolability of life from conception to natural death -- the Vatican's formulation for opposition to abortion, saying, "Dear families, rejoice in fatherhood and motherhood!" He also urged them to back legislation that supports families "in the task of giving birth to children and educating them."
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Marriage Culture is Key to a Healthy Economy, Study Says
Washington Times, June 6, 2011
America's ECONOMIC revival is tied to the revival of a strong MARRIAGE culture, according to a new study.
Compared with other family arrangements, marriage offers the best ECONOMIC outcomes for men, women, children and the nation, said Patrick Fagan, head of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute at the Family Research Council (FRC), in an analysis released late last month.
Only 5.8 percent of married families lived in poverty in 2009, he noted in the new study, called "Marriage and Economic Well-Being: The Economy of the Family Rises or Falls With Marriage."
Husbands tend to have more stable employment histories and earn, on average, almost 30 percent more than men who are not married. Wives are less likely to be impoverished, and children from married families have stronger "economic mobility" as adults, meaning they are more likely to work their way from good jobs to better ones over their lifetimes, according to the data....
Mr. Fagan argued that the federal government's welfare and anti-poverty safety net - which now accounts for $112 billion a year - is needed in part because of the social costs from high rates of cohabiting, divorce, unwed childbearing and single- parenting.
These unmarried family forms are associated with lower incomes and less wealth, according to data from the 2007 Survey of Consumer Finances cited in the FRC report.
For instance, the median income of households with children was $82,270; for intact married families; $65,816 for remarried stepfamilies; $45,248 for widowed families and unmarried-but-cohabiting "stepfamilies"; $37,021 for divorced families; $28,794 for "intact" cohabiting families and married-but-separated families; and $16,454 for never-married, single-parent families, the report says....
"If the government pledged to reduce family breakdown by just 1 percent, taxpayers would save around $1.1 billion a year," said Mr. Fagan. America's economic fortunes and sexual culture "rise or fall together," he added.
The 2010 U.S. Census found that traditional married-couple households now make up LESS THAN HALF of all American households, a sharp drop from the immediate post-World War II period. In 1950, 78 percent of homes were led by husband-wife couples, a share that fell to 52 percent (54.5 million homes) by 2000 and sank again to 48 percent (56.5 million homes) in 2010.
The second-most common household in 2010 was a one-person home. Some 31 million people lived alone, representing 27 percent of the 116.7 million households, according to census data.
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