As he presided over his first general audience of the year on Wednesday, Pope Francis called for easier adoption processes and urged couples to have more children.
Pope Francis has renewed his plea on couples to have more children in order to overcome what he has dubbed the “demographic winter” in parts of the Western world, stating that “the denial of fatherhood and motherhood shrinks us, takes away our humanity.”
Pets, according to Pope Francis, “sometimes take the place of children” in society.
“Today… we witness a type of selfishness,” stated the Pope. “We can tell that some people do not wish to have children.
“Sometimes they just have one, but they have dogs and cats that fill the role of children.” This may make people laugh, but it’s true.”
He went on to say that this behavior “denies fatherhood and motherhood and lowers us, takes away our humanity.”
As a result, “civilisation gets old without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and the country suffers,” the pontiff explained.
He also encouraged couples who are unable to have children to consider adoption.
“This is one of the finest expressions of love, fatherhood, and motherhood,” he remarked. “How many youngsters on the planet are waiting for someone to look after them?”
Pope Francis has been spotted caressing dogs, allowing a young lamb to be slung over his shoulders for Epiphany in 2014, and even touching tigers and panthers.
However, unlike his predecessor, Benedict XVI, who was a cat lover, Francis is not known to keep a pet at the Vatican.
While mentioning the sacrifices of volunteers who rescue the lives of animals, Italy’s International Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) stated it was “difficult to assume that the pope considers the love in our lives restricted numerically.”
“It is clear that animal life is less important to Francis than human life.” Those who believe that life is sacrosanct, on the other hand, embrace life beyond species,” stated OIPA President Massimo Comparotto in a statement.
During his speech, Pope Francis advocated for the streamlining of adoption processes “so that the desire of so many children in need of a home, and of so many spouses who wish to devote themselves in love, might come true.”
For the first time, a layman and a nun, rather than a shrouded monsignor, gave English and Spanish translations of Francis’ weekly catechism instruction, a minor but dramatic move for the Vatican.
During his almost nine-year papacy, Pope Francis has frequently criticized the aspect of Catholic culture that elevates priests and urged for the “people of God” to take their proper place in the church.
He has urged for women to serve in positions of administration and has appointed a few women religious to significant positions in the Vatican, however none of them heads a Vatican congregation. He is now presiding over a two-year meeting of Catholic laity from throughout the world to better understand the concerns of ordinary people and how the Church might meet those needs.