Fur babies do not have his blessing.
Pope Francis, 85, had some choice words for the childless at the Vatican on Wednesday. In remarks to a general audience, the Catholic church head called out couples who have chosen not to have children and opted to have pets instead.
“Today we see a form of selfishness,” the Pope said, according to Fox News. “We see that some people do not want to have a child. Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have . . . dogs and cats that take the place of children.”
He suggested that couples who can’t bear children should look into adoption — the cost of which can tally up to $70,000, according to Child Welfare Information Gateway.
“How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them,” the Pope went on.
“It is a risk, yes: having a child is always a risk, either naturally or by adoption,” the Argentina-born leader said. “But it is riskier not to have them. It is riskier to deny fatherhood, or to deny motherhood, be it real or spiritual.”
The Pope made the controversial remarks while speaking about Joseph, the Biblical “foster father” of Jesus. He said Joseph’s role was the prime example of one of the “highest forms of love” that someone can receive.
He went on to suggest that there might be something wrong with people who have chosen not to have children.
“A man or woman who do not develop the sense of fatherhood or motherhood, they are lacking something, something fundamental, something important.”
The pope’s controversial comments come at a time of a steep decline in population in the West. According to UPI, the United States saw a 7% decline in its childbirth rate in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The crude birth rate in Italy dropped by 9% last year and Spain saw an 8% decline. Crude birth rate refers to the number of births that occur during the year.
While Pope Francis doesn’t have any dogs or cats at his Vatican home, his predecessor, Benedict XVI, housed felines as pets.
Francis appears to be thinking a lot about parenthood so far in 2022. In his earlier New Year’s Day sermon, he called for an end to violence against women for the sake of motherhood.
“How much violence is directed against women! Enough! To hurt a woman is to insult God, who from a woman took on our humanity, not through an angel, not directly, but through a woman,” the Pope said earlier this week.
“And since mothers bestow life, and women keep the world (together), let us all make greater efforts to promote mothers and to protect women,” he said.