|Pope says Italians should have babies, not pets
Birth rates in many countries are falling to alarmingly low levels. Politicians in Japan and South Korea are pondering questions about the future economic viability of their countries. A recent conference in Italy has addressed the country's looming demographic crisis. Italy has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. The government is warning of considerable strains on pensions and the welfare system as Italy's population rapidly ages. The head of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis, has warned that having children is becoming more unaffordable for many couples. He lamented that starting a family in Italy is now a "titanic effort" that only the rich and wealthy can afford.