Pope Francis experienced major backlash this week when he said that couples who choose to have pets instead of children are selfish, and that the decision to forgo parenthood could lead to a loss of “humanity” and could even be a detriment to civilization
According to CNN, the Pope was speaking to a general audience about Saint Joseph’s fatherly love and dedication for Jesus, calling his decision to raise the son of God as “among the highest forms of love.” He then went into the topic of adoption, orphaned children, and the state of modern couples.
“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,” the Pope stated. “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 civilization becomes aged and without humanity, because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood. And our homeland suffers, as it does not have children.”
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.”
Though the Pope’s remarks are well in line with Catholic teachings — which emphasize the importance of couples bearing and raising children — it didn’t stop the public from expressing their own opinions on the topic.
“Billionaires and oil companies are right there, and Pope Francis is out here calling people with dogs selfish,” one Twitter user wrote.
Another pointed out that Pope Francis himself has chosen not to have children. “Interesting words from the Pope, who has apparently forgotten he has himself deliberately chosen not to have children,” the netizen said.
Social media-wise, the Pope is usually a well-loved figure. Though, his recent comments and the negative reaction it garnered has shown that “any individual is fair game,” according to Scott Steinberg, a brand market expert and social media pundit.
“If you choose to share your thought in the court of public opinion, don’t be surprised if the public decides to respond in turn,” he told Forbes.
Art Daniella Sison