today, the Holy See’s Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences concluded
its 12th Plenary Session, discussing “Vanishing Youth? Solidarity with
Children and Young People in an age of Turbulence,” concluding that no
society can afford the loss of its young people, through neglect, abuse
During a press conference this morning, the group said that the session included “over 30 presentations from scholars from every part of the world, meeting for more than 30 hours over five days.”
Professor Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Academy, said that the session’s “theme is part of a multi-year project of the Academy which is examining the broad implications of the demographic changes of the last few decades. Two years ago, the Academy’s plenary session looked at the aging population, with specific reference to social security and health systems.”
Therefore, she said “This year we looked at those same changes and their impact on children and young people worldwide. This opens a new possibility for Catholic social teaching, which to date has not focused as explicitly on the situation of young people as it has, for example, on labor, or women, or those living in poverty.”
The group, she said discussed the dire situations many children of the world live in, including those of neglect, abuse, oppression and sexual exploitation.
Among the discussions, Professor Gérard-François Dumont, Rector of the University of Paris-Sorbonne, recalled that while most of the world is familiar with China’s one-child policy many of these one-child families are now dominating Europe – “without government coercion.”
According to Glendon, This, he said “involves a certain ‘refusal of the future’ that will lead to a culture without brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles or cousins.”
In his message to the Academy, Pope Benedict wrote that "By nature, love looks to the eternal…Perhaps the lack of such creative and forward-looking love is the reason why many couples today choose not to marry, why so many marriages fail, and why birth rates have significantly diminished."
Delegates also discussed the discrepancies of children in some cultures who are forced to grow up too quickly while others--mainly in the western world--suffer from an “endless adolescence.”
The latter, Glendon said, is “marked by an avoidance of responsibilities, a desire to maintain all available options instead of permanent commitments, and a refusal of moral limitations in the sphere of human sexuality, such a syndrome makes it almost impossible for young people to assume the enduring sacrifices on which stable marriages and families are built.”
"No society, no culture", she concluded, "can afford to suffer a 'vanishing youth', for with them would also vanish the real hope and noble ideals of every nation".