NEWS: Vatican
Having pets instead of babies is a selfish act according to Pope Francis.

In a move like­ly to raise the jaws of mil­lions of cats, dogs and their human cohab­i­tants, Pope Fran­cis has sug­gest­ed that cou­ples who pre­fer pets over chil­dren are selfish.

Immers­ing him­self in a debate known for its tox­ic tone on social media, the leader of the 1.3 bil­lion Catholics world­wide said that sub­sti­tut­ing pets for chil­dren “takes away our humanity.”

Dur­ing a gen­er­al audi­ence at the Vat­i­can, he said: “Today… we see a form of self­ish­ness. 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.

Keep­ing pets was “a denial of pater­ni­ty and moth­er­hood and dimin­ish­es us, takes away our human­i­ty,” he said. The con­se­quence was that “civ­i­liza­tion ages with­out human­i­ty because we lose the wealth of father­hood and moth­er­hood, and it is the coun­try that suffers”.

While say­ing cou­ples who are bio­log­i­cal­ly unable to bear chil­dren might con­sid­er adop­tion, he urged poten­tial par­ents “not to be afraid” of get­ting into par­ent­hood. “Hav­ing a child is always a risk, but there is a greater risk of not hav­ing a child,” he said.

The “mad cat ladies” and cou­ples with “fur­ry babies” are fre­quent­ly trolled on social net­works. The for­mer are described as lone­ly and unloved women, and the lat­ter as self-cen­tered nar­cis­sists or careerists for whom babies and chil­dren are troublesome.

But the declin­ing birth rate in devel­oped coun­tries is caus­ing con­cern. Accord­ing to the US Cen­sus Bureau, the pro­por­tion of house­holds made up of mar­ried cou­ples with chil­dren fell from 40% in 1970 to 20% in 2012. But sev­en in ten house­holds includ­ed a pet.

Dur­ing the Covid-19 pan­dem­ic, there was a fur­ther marked drop in the birth rate. In Italy, 22% few­er babies were born in Decem­ber 2020 com­pared to the same month a year ear­li­er. In Spain, the decrease was 20%, and in France 13%.

“I felt like I would give up a lot of my life to be a par­ent,” Lisa Rochow from Ypsi­lan­ti, Michi­gan, told the BBC in 2019. “It would cost mon­ey, it would cost time. , it would cost things you want to do. ” Instead, she and her part­ner, both in their twen­ties, had wel­comed a Siber­ian Husky pup­py into their lives. Some cou­ples choose not to have chil­dren for envi­ron­men­tal or finan­cial reasons.

Fran­cis, who has pre­vi­ous­ly denounced “demo­graph­ic win­ter”, or declin­ing birth rates in devel­oped coun­tries, is not known to have a pet in his Vat­i­can res­i­dence. But he was pho­tographed pet­ting dogs. He allowed a baby lamb to be draped over his shoul­ders dur­ing Epiphany in 2014 and stroked a tiger and a panther.

In 2014, François told Il Mes­sag­gero news­pa­per that hav­ing pets instead of chil­dren was “anoth­er phe­nom­e­non of cul­tur­al degra­da­tion”, and that emo­tion­al rela­tion­ships with pets were eas­i­er than the “com­plex rela­tion­ship.” Between par­ents and children.

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