By Vic Rosenthal
Pope Benedict XVI warned Europeans that their falling birthrate may lead Europe to “take its leave from history”:
Benedict said he was concerned about Europe’s “demographic profile” — though he did not describe the trends that have alarmed the continent for decades.
In countries like Italy, where many married couples have one or no children, the population is expected to shrink dramatically in a generation or two unless fertility rates quickly increase…
Italy’s fertility rate steadily plunged to a low of 1.25 children per women of childbearing age in 2001, with the last few years seeing a small turnaround, mainly due to births to immigrants. — AP (Yahoo), Europe losing faith in its future
While the European population falls, the Muslim population is rising, due to immigration and higher birthrates. And the Muslims are becoming enfranchised:
Today , the Muslim birth rate in Europe is three times higher than the non-Muslim one. If current trends continue, the Muslim population of Europe will nearly double by 2015, while the non-Muslim population will shrink by 3.5 percent…
A parallel process of Muslim enfranchisement is accompanying this population surge. Nearly half of the 5 million to 7 million Muslims in France are already French citizens. The situation is similar for most of the 2 million Muslims in Great Britain. Most recently, in 2000, Germany joined the countries where citizenship is granted according to birthplace instead of ancestry. The new German citizenship laws added already a half million voters to the rolls and have opened the road to citizenship to all other Muslims in Germany. — Europe’s Muslim Street, Omar Taspinar (Brookings Institution).
If anything, these trends are increasing today. The Muslim population is much younger than the indigenous Europeans, which means that the rate of increase of Muslims both in numbers and influence is also on the rise. Muslims are already beginning to have a significant effect on the domestic and foreign policies of European nations.
Europe is changing from a religious standpoint as well. Many European Christians are Christians in name only, living almost entirely secular lives. Islam, especially including fundamentalist variations, plays a much greater role in the lives of European Muslims.
Islam is a highly political religion; surveys have shown that a large proportion of Muslims agree with the statement that “my religion has a strong effect on my politics”, much more so than Christians. There is no doubt that Muslims are actively trying to increase their influence in all spheres of life, while the non-Muslim Europeans seem content to “cultivate their own gardens” in the words of Voltaire.
So perhaps the Pope could have said that the Christian European culture that basically created the modern world will soon be a memory, replaced by a primarily Muslim one. With it, I think, will go many of the Enlightenment values of tolerance, individual freedoms, etc. that we so value.