Sandro Magister notes two yardsticks for judging the success of the Church in Italy:
The collapse of the birth rate here reached an all-time low in 2017. In a country of 60.5 million inhabitants, just 458,151 children were born last year, and even fewer, around 440,000, new births are predicted for 2018, a little more than 7 for every 1,000 inhabitants, 30 percent below the average for the European Union, which is already the region with the lowest birth rate in the world.
If one considers that the “total fertility rate” that ensures zero growth, meaning a balanced turnover of the population, is 2.1 children per woman, the Italian figure has been dramatically below this for decades and in 2017 sank to the level of 1.32, with quite a few regions even more stingy with births, and with Sardinia even falling to the level of 1.06.
These are numbers that already attest to an inexorable march toward the extinction of a people.
But even more striking are the figures concerning marriage. There were 203,000 in 2016, and dropped to 191,000 in 2017, down 6 percent in a single year, a decrease second only to the structural one in 1975, the year following the approval of divorce in Italy.
But take care. What have fallen are not marriages with at least one foreign spouse, nor remarriages of the divorced and widowed. The real collapse is in first marriages – down 7.3 percent – and even more in religious marriages, which fell by 10.5 percent between 2016 and 2017.
This is how the demographer Roberto Volpi, a non-Catholic, comments on the latest figures, in the newspaper “Il Foglio” of November 29:
“The reason why this setback in religious marriage is even more worrying than all the rest is easily said. Still today 70 percent of births in Italy take place within marriage, but it is marriage with a religious ceremony that clearly assures more births compared to marriage with a civil ceremony. This latter is in fact above all the marriage to which the divorced, widowed, and mixed couples of Italians and foreigners resort, unlike religious marriage which remains by far the preference of the unmarried, of a younger age and a greater inclination to have children.”
And he concludes:
“A high marriage rate in Italy marked the years of the postwar reconstruction, of the economic miracle, of entrepreneurship and hope for the future among Italians. It is marriages that tell us how healthy or sick we are. Currently we are at a roughly terminal stage. It would not be bad if the Church, the first to pay the price, would understand this and get moving.”
This last quip sounds paradoxical, after a double synod that the Catholic Church dedicated precisely to the topic of the family.
Paradoxical but true, seeing how that double synod was intentionally scuppered in the dispute over communion for the divorced and remarried and on the merciful admission of what marriage is not, from cohabitation to homosexual couples.
A dispute that left the field open for the offensive of the adversaries of true marriage. As in the famous saying of Titus Livius: “Dum Romae consulitur, Saguntum expugnatur.” While in Rome they discussed pointlessly, into the city stole the enemy.
Go here to read the rest. PopeWatch would have more patience with clerics giving advice in areas in which they have no expertise, if they were not simultaneously flat failures in areas where the Church has traditionally wielded the greatest influence. Christ said it all about this situation 2000 years ago:
 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to his disciples,  Saying: The scribes and the Pharisees have sitten on the chair of Moses.  All things therefore whatsoever they shall say to you, observe and do: but according to their works do ye not; for they say, and do not.
Matthew 23: 1-3
However our scribes and Pharisees frequently do not do, they also do not even say. Many passages in the New Testament should make very disturbing reading for the current leaders of the Church.