Pope Francis spoke of the "reality" that more couples today have more dogs and cats than they have actual human children.
Giving a catechesis on Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, and on the importance of adoption in the world today, the head of the Roman Catholic church pointed out on Wednesday during his regular General Audience that there is a "certain selfishness" happening out of fear.
"We should not be afraid to choose the path of adoption, to take the 'risk' of welcoming children. And today, with orphanhood, there is a certain selfishness," Pope Francis said.
"The other day, I spoke about the demographic winter there is nowadays, in which 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. Yes, it's funny, I understand, but it is the reality," he continued.
The Christian Post explained that the pontiff was lamenting on the phenomenon of declining birth rates that is seen mostly in western countries. Fertility rates, such as those in the United States, have fallen greatly as compared to prior generations.
Recent data in the United States from Pew Research Center show that a record low in fertility rate of 59 in 1,000 women aged 15 to 44 was seen in 2018, which is half to that recorded in 1960. While United States Centers for Disease Control data as of May 2021 showed fertility rates decreased continuously in 2020 at 3,605,201, which is the lowest recorded since 1979.
Pope Francis stressed that people who choose to have more pets than children deny fatherhood or motherhood, which in turn diminish their humanity and, in turn, affects mankind as a whole. The pontiff elaborated that those who could not have children have the option to choose adoption since there are so many children in orphanages who "are waiting for someone to take care of them!"
"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, and, as it has been said somewhat humorously, 'and now who will pay the taxes for my pension, if there are no children?': with laughter, but it is the truth," Pope Francis underscored.
The pontiff went on to identify the beautiful traits of adoption and described it as an openness to "welcome life" in the same way parents having children naturally do. Pope Francis then cited the example set by Joseph who was truly a father to Jesus while on earth before reiterating his invitation for couples to consider adoption.
"I think in a particular way of all those who are open to welcome life by way of adoption, which is such a generous and beautiful, good attitude. Joseph shows us that this type of bond is not secondary; it is not an afterthought, no. This kind of choice is among the highest forms of love, and of fatherhood and motherhood," Pope Francis revealed.
"If you cannot have children, think about adoption. It is a risk, yes: 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. But denial, a man or woman who do not develop the sense of fatherhood or motherhood, they are lacking something, something fundamental, something important. Think about this, please," he added.