Have children or be Islamised, Europe told

The Vancouver Sun (Link) - Simon Caldwell (September 7, 2010)

European Christians must have more children or face the prospect of the Continent becoming Islamised, a senior Vatican official has said.

Fr Piero Gheddo, an Italian, said that the low birth rate among indigenous Europeans combined with an unprecedented wave of Muslim immigrants with large families could see Europe becoming dominated by Islam in the space of a few generations. �The challenge must be taken seriously,� said Fr Gheddo, of the Vatican�s Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions.

�Certainly from a demographic point of view, as it is clear to everyone that Italians are decreasing by 120,000 or 130,000 persons a year because of abortion and broken families - while among the more than 200,000 legal immigrants a year in Italy, more than half are Muslims and Muslim families, which have a much higher level of growth. Newspapers and television programs never speak of this.

�However, an answer must be given above all in the religious and cultural fields and in the area of identity.�

He predicted that Islam would �sooner rather than later conquer the majority in Europe.�

�The fact is that, as a people, we are becoming ever more pagan and the religious vacuum is inevitably filled by other proposals and religious forces,� he said. Fr Gheddo said that Christians who lapsed were also making themselves vulnerable to attacks by secularists.

He said that when �religious practice diminishes in Christian Europe and indifference spreads, Christianity and the Church are attacked.�

�If we consider ourselves a Christian country, we should return to the practice of Christian life, which would also solve the problem of empty cradles,� he added.

The comments of Fr Gheddo come just months after a Czech cardinal also blamed lapsed Catholics for the Islamisation of Europe.

On his retirement as the Archbishop of Prague earlier this year, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk said that Muslims were well placed to fill the spiritual void �created as Europeans systematically empty the Christian content of their lives.�

He said that unless Christians woke up to the threat to their culture they would soon find they no longer had the strength to make their mark on society. He called on Christians to respond to the threat of Islamisation by living their own religious faith more observantly.

Although many European Catholic bishops defend the rights of Muslims to worship publicly, others are more keen to protect the Christian heritage of their continent.

Last year Cardinal Jose Policarpo, the Patriarch of Lisbon, warned Catholic women against marrying Muslims.

Muslims in Europe

Europe�s Muslim population of 2.4 per cent has doubled in the past 30 years and is predicted to double again by 2015.

The number of Muslims in Europe in 2007 was 53 million, including 16 million in the EU, according to the German Central Institute Islam Archive.

Muslims will account for more than 20 per cent of the EU population by 2050, according to the U.S.�s Migration Policy Institute.

Mohammed is expected to be the most popular boy�s name in England and Wales when figures are released by the Office for National Statistics in October.

Official figures last year found that the Muslim population in Britain had grown by more than 500,000 to 2.4 million in four years.