Having pets and not children robs us of “humanity”: Pope Francis

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Pope Francis meets a child after the weekly general audience at the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican on January 5, 2022.
Image Credit: REUTERS

Vatican City: Pope Francis on Wednesday risked the wrath of owners of childless dogs and cats around the world, suggesting people who replace pets with children show “a certain selfishness”

Speaking on parenting at a general audience at the Vatican, Francis lamented that pets “sometimes take the place of children” in society.

“Today … we see a form of selfishness,” said the Pope. “We see that some people do not want to have children.

“Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of the children. It may make people laugh, but it is a reality.”

The practice, said the leader of the 1.3 billion Catholics in the world, “is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity.”

Thus, “civilization ages without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and it is the country that suffers”, declared the pontiff in the Paul VI room.

Francis was pictured petting dogs, allowed a baby lamb to be draped over his shoulders during Epiphany in 2014, and even petted a tiger and baby panther.

But while his predecessor, Benedict XVI, was a cat lover, Francis is not known to have a pet in his Vatican residence.

The Italian International Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) said it was “strange to think that the Pope considers the love in our lives quantitatively limited” while citing the sacrifices of volunteers who save the lives of animals .

“It is obvious that for Francis, animal life is less important than human life. But those who think that life is sacred love life beyond species,” said OIPA President Massimo Comparotto, in a press release.

Children are tough

In 2014, Francis told the daily Il Messaggero that having pets instead of children was “another phenomenon of cultural degradation”, and that emotional relationships with pets were “easier” than relationships. “Complex” between parents and children.

On Wednesday, while urging couples who cannot have children for biological reasons to consider adoption, he urged potential parents “not to be afraid” to jump into parenthood.

“Having a child is always a risk, but there is more risk in not having a child, in denying paternity,” he said.

The Argentine pontiff has in the past denounced “demographic winter”, or the decline in birth rates in the developed world.

Earlier this year, he criticized modern society, in which career and money trump family building for many, calling the mentality “gangrene for society”.


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