|'Stay at home and have four children': German cardinal says women should have more babies to solve country's population crisis|
Women should stay at home and have three or four children to help solve Germany's predicted population crisis, according to a cardinal.
Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cologne, has criticised German Chancellor Angela Merkel's policy of trying to attract immigrants to work in the country.
He said women should be encouraged to produce more children to increase the German population and said Merkel was using immigration to solve Germany's demographic problems.
In a wide-ranging attack on Merkel's policies, the cardinal told German newspaper Stuttgarter Zeitung: 'We are a dying people but have a perfect legislation for abortion. Is not that the suicide of society?'
Germany has the lowest birth rate in Europe at just 1.36 children per woman and forecasters predict the country's 83million population will shrink to 70million by 2050 if the birth date does not increase.
Cardinal Meisner, 79, said: 'Where are women really encouraged publicly to stay at home and bring three, four children into the world?
'This is what we should do and not - as Mrs Merkel is doing now - only present immigration as a solution to our demographic problems,' he said in an interview with Stuttgarter Zeitung.
The German government spends millions of euros a year trying to encourage women to have more children.
Berlin has increased monthly subsidies to families in recent years but it has had little effect on the birth rate.
Cardinal Meisner said there was an urgent need to 'create a climate' in Germany that encourages women to have more children.
He said more value should be placed on the role of mother and father and compared Merkel's government's family policy to that in East Germany.
He said under Communist rule, women who chose not to work in order to bring up children were classed as 'demented'.
Cardinal Meisner's comments have drawn criticism from German women.
Annegret Laakmann, president of the Catholic group Women's Dignity, told the Daily Telegraph: 'Age doesn't always bring wisdom.
'The Church can't drag women back into the kitchen. We don't live in the 1940s.'
Germany has organised a mass apprentice scheme for unemployed young people from Spain and Portugal.
But Cardinal Meisner said the policy was taking 'away the youth and future' from the two countries.
He argued that the 5,000 people on the scheme should be trained and then sent back to their countries to help rebuild after the devastating effects of the banking crisis and subsequent austerity.
\'Stay at home and have four children\': German cardinal says women should have more babies to solve country\'s population crisis