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The future in the West: aging populations (United Nations).

New York--The United Nations (Population Division, Dept. of Economic and Social Affairs) published its latest demographic projections in February 2001. The department now sees aging, not the population boom, as the main demographic problem.

After decades of promoting family-planning programs with their attendant sterilizations and abortions, the developed world in the West is beginning to experience the syndrome of below-replacement-rate birth rates.

U.N. calculations set the world's population at 6.1 billion in mid-2000, but they have scaled back the rate of increase for the future--set only three years ago in 1998-from 1.33% to 1.2%.

The contrast is between Europe and North America, on the one hand, and the "Third World" on the other, where the population is forecast to rise from today's 4.9 billion to 8.2 billion in 2050. At present, just six countries--India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Nigeria--account for fully half the annual growth in the number of people.

The rich industrial nations of the West now have to face the consequences of low birth rates. Fewer children mean older populations. By 2050, the U.N. estimates that in some countries there will be two senior citizens for every child. This will result in fiscal stress, both from pension payments and from supplying social and medical services. Another problem, a declining labour force, may find a short-term solution in increased immigration, but once the immigrants adapt to the 'modern' standards of their new country, they also tend to adopt their reproductive standards--and so the problem recurs.

There is no sign as yet that these projections will inspire the U.N. or government agencies to stop funding "family planning" groups and encourage people in their own countries to have larger families, through such laws as friendlier tax policies.

Updates on previous stories

Brussels--The two Catholic nuns and a former Rwandan minister convicted by a Belgian court of genocide will appeal the sentences handed bown (C.I., July/August, p.36).

The Johnny Hart Easter cartoon, showing the Jewish Passover menorah gradually transforming into the Christian cross (C.I., July/August, p.39) was meant to illustrate that Jesus Christ has become the Passover Lamb ("the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world"). American Jewish extremists fulminated against it as anti-Semitic hatred of Judaism. But the strip was not about the end or the replacement of the Jews (Jesus made it clear that He did not come to replace the law of the Old Testament, but to fulfill it) (Wanderer, May 24). Some Catholics spoke out against it, presumably because they no longer believe that the New Covenant has been fulfilled and now replaces the Old Covenant.

Hamilton--In Toronto former U.S. President Bill Clinton spoke to a mostly Jewish sell-out crowd at the Hummingbird Centre who give him a standing ovation on several occasions. Outside, and earlier in the press, opposition came only from a few who accused Clinton of having mis-managed the Rwandan crisis. There were no references to his immoral lifestyle.

Meanwhile, the St. Joseph's Health Centre in Hamilton, whose earlier invitation to Clinton had been opposed by Catholic pro-lifers (see our June editorial), published an in-your-face, eight-page supplement to the National Post with a large photo of Clinton and a thank you across the bottom quarter of its front page. Just above this section Sister Ann Anderson, president of St. Joseph's Health Care, thanked the centre's various benefactors for their marvellous support. As noted earlier, Sr. Anderson is now Dean of St. Michael's College, Faculty of Theology in Toronto.

The daughter of Christopher Dawson, Mrs. Christina Scott died peacefully in England on May 29 at the age of 79. Our contributor, Edward King, made generous use of her biography of her father ,A Historian and His World, 1984, in his three articles on Dawson (March, April, May 2001).
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Publication:Catholic Insight
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 1, 2001
Previous Article:Cardinal Thomas J. Winning (1925-2001) (Scotland).
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