The Pope has branded people who chose to have pets over children as ‘selfish’.
The 85-year-old passed on his criticism as he explained his belief that opting to have a childless life leads to a loss in ‘humanity’.
Speaking about something that doesn’t concern him (there we go, I said it), Pope Francis told a general audience at the Vatican earlier today (5 January): “Today… we see a form of selfishness.
“We see that people do not want to have children, or just one and no more. And many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one – but they have two dogs, two cats … Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children.”
He went on to add: “Yes, it’s funny, I understand, but it is the reality. And this denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us, it takes away our humanity.
“And in this way civilisation becomes aged and without humanity, because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood. And our homeland suffers, as it does not have children.”
The comments came as he urged people to have more children in a bid to solve the West’s ‘demographic winter’. He also used the opportunity to encourage those that can’t have children to adopt.
He continued: “How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them?
“Having a child is always a risk, either naturally or by adoption. But it is riskier not to have them. It is riskier to deny fatherhood, or to deny motherhood, be it real or spiritual.”
People have taken to social media to pass on their own opinion on his comments with one person writing: “People who choose not to have children are not being “selfish”, but “responsible”. Pets are not “substitutes for children”, they are just extensions of family, as are friends.”
Another person commented: “Oh yes, i’m terribly selfish for adopting a dog who needed a home instead of passing on terrible hereditary medical issues. Mhmm, definitely selfish.”
Others have taken the opportunity to ask how many children he has himself.
“The Pope says people who choose pets over children are ‘selfish’,” one said, before enquiring: “So how many children has His Holiness got, exactly?”