ABORTION GIVES ITALY EUROPE'S LOWEST BIRTHRATE
by Fr. Paul Marx, OSB
In 1978 the Italian Parliament passed a law allowing abortion in the
first 12 weeks of pregnancy, and up to 20 weeks for health, both
physical and psychological. In 1984 there was a referendum on
abortion; the text of the referendum, unfortunately, was most
confusing, and while most Italians were against abortion and most
likely would have voted against it, as a matter of fact, only 30
percent did vote no. So the Italians have virtually
Italian abortionists kill about 300,000 babies per year. is Italy's national pro-life movement, neither very
active nor very strong. In Italy there are no prayer vigils in front
of hospitals doing abortions, no sidewalk counseling, no
picketing/witnessing; there is little preaching against it.
Padre Pio, who died in 1968, always maintained that the prayers of
children are most pleasing to the Lord, and very important in the
redemption of the world. Out of that grew the "White Army" of
thousands of children praying for the unborn in the spirit of Fatima.
In 1989 a disciple of Padre Pio, P. Andrea D'Ascanio, O.S.F. Cap.,
organized a program whereby aborted babies are retrieved from
hospitals, placed in small white coffins, reverently carried through
the streets with prayer, and then duly buried with full ceremony.
These ceremonies are carried on in Abruzzo, Sardinia, Lombardy,
Cosenga and other areas.
A law in Italy allows any part of the body amputated to be buried if
requested. On that basis, pro-lifers demand the bodies of aborted
babies. Hospitals reluctantly surrender them; they would rather
incinerate them. Medical personnel involved, obviously, are not very
happy with this law and these burials. But the ceremonial burials in
cemeteries have enormous witness value, and remind the
all-too-indifferent Italians of the killing going on.
At each burial site there is a small cross. One group of these White
Army workers told me that from a particular government hospital in
Milan, they had buried 65 aborted babies since last February. No
abortions are done in Catholic hospitals. For some priests this
retrieval of aborted babies and their ceremonial burial is "too
radical." The request for such retrievals, by the way, must be made
within 48 hours after the abortion, to bury the remains of a 1 2-week
suction abortion. The miscarried unborn babies are routinely buried,
Meanwhile, affluent Italy has surpassed Germany with the lowest
birthrate in the Western world: 1.22 children per family (2.2 needed
for reproduction).The reasons for this are multiple: affluence; the
pervasive anti-life media picturing the ideal woman as slender,
young, attractivefar removed from the typical, plump of
yesteryear with her many ; increasing numbers of women
working; the tendency of young Italians leaving the family nest
later; and later marriage or just living together without benefit of
In Italy, however, only 5 percent of married couples divorce, the
lowest in Europe, compared to 50 percent in Denmark. Last year
Camillo Cardinal Ruini said that the low birthrate was Italy's and
the Church's greatest problem. Ruini started a campaign "for the
third child." Fun-loving Italians reacted with a yawn. By the time
they wake up, it may be too late.
Taken from the August 1995 issue of "HLI Reports."
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