Pope Francis criticized people who decided not to have children, but to have pets instead. The pope was speaking to a general audience on Wednesday, when he turned his sermon to fatherhood.
“We have so many children without fathers and the challenges of this in society today, we notice,” Pope Francis said. “Fathers are not born but made. A man does not become a father by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child.” He used the example of Joseph, who brought up Jesus, and parents who choose to adopt children.
Pope Francis said “many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they only have one and not more. But they have domestic animals – two dogs, two cats.” He called the decision not to have children a form of “selfishness,” according to BBC News.
He said giving up on motherhood or fatherhood “can take some of our humanity away from us,” and nations can suffer from this.
The pope said while having a child is a risk, it’s a bigger risk not to have them. He said many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them, so adoption should also be considered, even if it is difficult. “I pray that no one feel deprived of a paternal love,” he said.
Pope Francis made similar remarks in 2014, when he said those who substitute children with dogs and cats feel “bitterness of loneliness” in old age, according to the Washington Post.
While it is believed the Pope does not have a pet of his own, he has been photographed petting animals – from dogs to to panthers – according to BBC News.