Pope Francis says people who substitute pets for kids exhibit “a certain selfishness”.
Speaking on parenthood during a general audience on Wednesday at the Vatican, Francis lamented that pets “sometimes take the place of children” in society.
“Today … we see a form of selfishness,” said the pope. “We see that some people do not want to have a child.
“Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children. This may make people laugh but it is a reality.”
The practice, said the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics, “is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity”.
Thus, “civilisation grows old without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and it is the country that suffers”, the pontiff said at the Paul VI Hall.
Francis has been photographed petting dogs, allowed a baby lamb to be draped over his shoulders during Epiphany in 2014 and even petted a tiger and a baby panther.
While his predecessor, Benedict XVI, was a cat lover, Francis is not known to have a pet at his Vatican residence.