January 5, 2021
Speaking at the Vatican, Pope Francis has criticized individuals who let pets “take the place of children” for leaving civilization “without humanity,” saying they deprive society of “the richness of fatherhood and motherhood.”
The Pope’s address to a general audience on Wednesday risked sparking the anger of childless pet owners by once again taking aim at their decision to avoid parenthood.
The condemnation from the pontiff came despite him seemingly being a fan of animals, having been photographed stroking dogs, a tiger, and a baby panther. During the 2014 Epiphany, the Pope even had a baby lamb draped over his shoulders.
Regardless, the Pope argued that people who do not want to have a child, choosing instead to have pets, exhibit a “form of selfishness.”
“Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children. This may make people laugh but it is a reality,” the pontiff said.
Civilization grows old without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and it is the country that suffers.
The Pope’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, was known to be a fan of cats, owning a black-and-white feline called Chico. Francis is not thought to have any pets at his Vatican apartment.
Addressing couples who biologically are unable to have their own children, the pontiff argued that individuals should “not be afraid” to embark on parenthood by adopting.
“Having a child is always a risk, but there is more risk in not having a child, in denying paternity,” Pope Francis said, reiterating concerns he raised in 2014 that not having kids is a “phenomenon of cultural degradation.”