Europe's Demographic Winter

Steven Mosher
PRI Weekly Briefing
2 June 2006
Vol. 8 / No. 21
Reproduced with Permission

We held a Family Life International conference in London on April 29th, and followed up with an event in Dublin on May 3rd. The theme of my talks, appropriately enough for European audiences, was the demographic winter that is descending upon that dying continent. Europe, I told them, is almost lost.

Great Britain has already succumbed to the deadly malaise that has gripped postmodern, post-Christian Europe. The birthrate is at historic lows, as is church attendance. Many of the children you see on the streets of London are of Pakistani descent. The government long ago began jettisoning its own faith traditions, a process by now so far advanced that the display of England's centuries-long battle standard -- the red cross of St. George on a field of white -- is discouraged, lest the large and growing population of Muslim immigrants be offended. This is not only multi-culturalism run amok; it is proof positive that the "God-is-dead" types now run the place. To put it another way, St. George may have long ago defeated the dragon, but the wily old serpent has come roaring back in our day.

Yet more proof of pagan rule is that the U.K. has abortion-on-demand up to 24 weeks gestation. Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair -- the father of four children -- takes the "personally opposed, but…" line popularized by former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. He claims to abhor abortion, but at the same time does nothing to stop even late second-trimester killings. Thanks to medical advances, babies now reach viability earlier than ever before. Premature babies born at six months routinely survive in neonatal intensive care units. For this reason, some in the U.K. last year proposed banning all abortions after 20 weeks. Blair sat out this debate in silence, and in the end the current law remained unchanged.

Against this riptide of death, our affiliate in the U.K., headed by the indomitable Greg Clovis, is fighting a courageous rear-guard action. Through conferences and seminars, publications and DVD presentations, Greg and his able staff work ceaselessly to promote the Culture of Life. This "reverse missionary" -- he was born in the former British colony of St. Lucia in the West Indies -- has given dozens of talks on NFP throughout the U.K., urging young couples to be open to children. He has also sponsored educational campaigns across England. It is difficult to say how many babies owe their existence to Greg's efforts, but the number is surely in the thousands, if not tens of thousands.

Venturing across the Irish Sea to the Emerald Isle, we find ourselves in a happier state than "merry olde England." Along with Poland and one or two other European countries, Ireland has to some extent maintained her robust traditional faith and strong families. True, her birthrate has fallen slightly below replacement in recent years, but it has not fallen so far that a springtime of new births is impossible, as it is in many other European countries.

Nor has Ireland entirely given in to the secularists. Abortion remains illegal, for example. It is a national tragedy that an estimated 7,000 Irish girls travel to the U.K. each year for abortions but, even so, the abortion rate remains far lower than in other European countries. Ireland's pro-lifers, led by Patrick Buckley of the European Life Network, are working hard to lower the number further.

Ireland has saved Europe before. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, it was Irish monks, enormously learned in the Scriptures, who preserved the writings and the witness of the early Church Fathers, along with the best of the classical writers. Today, it is likely that she will save it again, if anyone can. It is above all Irish pro-lifers who are resisting pressure from the Eurocrats in Brussels to abandon faith, family, and tradition for a Brave New World of immorality, decay and death.

Much is at stake. For as Europe goes, so goes much of the world.