Bishop says birthrate decline reflects 'crisis of commitment'
Sydney auxiliary Bishop Anthony Fisher has said that marriage breakdowns, and related issues including the alarming decline in Australia's birthrate, have created "a real crisis of commitment in Australian youth".
The Catholic Weekly reports the bishop's contention that harsh economic realities and "practised non-committal" is undermining people's confidence to marry and have children.
Bishop Fisher, a member of the Australian Bishops' Committee for Family and Life, believes that an economic and cultural shift must be made to avert a looming "demographic disaster".
He was commenting on a Federal Government study into Australia's low fertility rate which showed that most young adults, while are in favour of parenthood, are likely to put off having children and then limit the number to two.
Bishop Fisher said that he does not believe young people were avoiding starting families because of selfishness, or that they did not hold up marriage and family life as ideals any more. Rather, many are afraid to take the plunge because they have seen so many marriages, religious vocations and other institutions fall by the wayside.
"They are afraid and put making a commitment off," the bishop said. "That leap into the dark, to have the courage and the generosity to make a commitment to a person, a great ideal or a great cause without knowing where it will take you, is affected".
The Australian Institute of Family Studies surveyed more than 3000 Australians aged 20-39 for its Fertility Decision Making Project, funded by the Federal Office for Women.
Birthrate shows 'real crisis of commitment' (Catholic Weekly 20/2/05)
Australian Institute of Family Studies | 'It's not for lack of wanting kids...' A report on the Fertility Decision Making Project
Office for the Status of Women
17 Feb 2005