WelCom February 2022
Pope Francis began his regular weekly address at the Vatican recently by talking about the role of St Joseph as an adoptive father. It was a celebration of adoption as ‘among the highest forms of love’. The general audience was part of a series of catechesis on St Joseph.
And then, in offhand comments, the Pope talked about how some people choose to have pets instead of children and warned of the dangers of a dwindling birth-rate in affluent countries.
In the context of the ‘demographic winter’ affecting Europe and other wealthy nations, the Pope encouraged people to ‘take the risk of welcoming children,’ biological or adopted.
‘Today … we see a form of selfishness,’ the Pope said, according to translations in multiple reports. ‘We see that some people do not want to have a child.’ Or, he said, they may have one or two kids – ‘but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children.’
The Pope’s comments, widely reported by the media out of context, drew criticism from pet owners and a number of commentators who argued that falling birth-rates are far more complicated than personal choice.