Pope Francis has called on childless couples to adopt children and urged institutions to simplify the process. He also condemned the practice of adopting pets instead of children, calling it a “form of selfishness”.
In his first general audience for the new year, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of fatherhood, especially when so many children in the world have been orphaned.
He said that whenever a person takes responsibility for someone else’s life, that person is assuming a form of fatherhood. The Pope called on people not to be afraid to choose adoption, saying it was one of the highest forms of love and fatherhood.
Pope Francis said how many children in the world are waiting for someone to look after them and how many couples want to become parents but are unable for biological reasons. He said that adoption is a beautiful and generous act.
Pope said that having a child is always a risk, whether the child is biologically her own or adopted. Denying paternity is an even greater risk, he said.
He said the problem isn’t just the number of orphans, but the fact that many people don’t want children, a situation he described as a “demographic cold.”
Pope said that many couples have no children because they don’t want them or they only want one but then they have two dogs, two cats. Yes, the Pope said, dogs and cats take the place of children. He said that this may make people laugh, but it is a fact.
Pope Francis said that those who choose to have pets rather than children are manifesting a form of selfishness.
In a statement, Massimo Camparotto, president of Italy’s International Organization for the Protection of Animals, OIPA, criticized the pope’s remarks. “It is clear that for Francis, animal life is no less important than human life. But those who think life is sacred, love life beyond species,” he said.
The Pope urged organizations to make it easier for couples to adopt children, and to provide more support to families who do so.