Pope says Italians should have babies, not pets

Birth rates are falling to worrying levels. Japan and South Korea are worried about their future. A conference in Italy has addressed Italy's population crisis. Italy has one of the world's lowest birth rates. Pension and welfare systems may not cope. Pope Francis has warned that having children is unaffordable for many couples. He said starting a family is a "titanic effort" that only rich people can afford.

The Pope encouraged Italians to have more children and not make "selfish, egotistical" choices. He said fewer children is threatening Italy's economic future. He said Italy faces a "demographic winter". Italy saw a record low number of births last year and a higher number of deaths. The Pope urged couples to have babies instead of pets. Italy is often called "the country of empty cribs". Elon Musk said: "Italy is disappearing."