Faith

Pope Criticizes Those Choosing Pets Over Children

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I didn’t realize there were so many people who prefer to have pets over children. Apparently, there are enough for Pope Francis to step in.

Even though I’m not a Catholic, I have a great deal of respect for Pope Francis. I’ve written before about things he said that I agreed with or (occasionally) disagreed with.

Some of his recent comments about children and pet ownership, I’m afraid, fall into the latter category.

Multiple news agencies reported that the pontiff criticized people who choose to have pets over children. He said a “denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us.”

“Today, we see a form of selfishness,” Francis said, according to The Guardian. “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.”

I feel it can be a loss when those who would make good parents choose not to be parents. I’ll give him that much. I also agree that those who are capable of giving a good home to those waiting to be adopted should step up.

But there’s plenty I disagree with.

However, I disagree strongly with the notion that all people are supposed to have children. In today’s world, with growing climate concerns and overpopulations, I find that to be a reckless attitude. Couples shouldn’t be forced — by law or religious decree — to have children just because.

People should have children because they want to have children, not because a leader says they should.

In the United States, some children live in unsafe, potentially volatile situations. America’s legal system makes for an extraordinary battle to move those children from biological parents to adoptive parents. That’s true even when the adoptive parents could provide a better, more loving home. Why aren’t we addressing that?

Yes, adoption can be a great alternative for parents who are biologically unable to have children.

I find it ridiculous to think that every couple or even every single person has a duty to be a parent. I know some incredible parents who provide loving, supportive homes to their children. However, nearly every day, you can find news stories about parents accused of doing exactly the opposite.

Not everyone makes a good parent. If we’re honest, we have to recognize that.

My folks chose to have one child. When I was a kid, we had several pets. I grew up with a love of animals and I have had several dogs over my lifetime. At the moment, I have one dog but no children. While I think I make an excellent dog dad, I don’t think I would make a good dad for a child.

That’s my call to make. That’s my business. Not the government’s. Not the church’s. And not Pope Francis’s.

There’s a movement now to do away with a woman’s right to abortion. In doing so, that would force women who clearly do not want to have a child under whatever circumstances they’re in — that’s their business — to have a child. Maybe those women will make excellent mothers regardless. Perhaps they won’t. At best, the child gets put up for adoption and, also at best, it goes to a worthy family.

But there are no guarantees.

There shouldn’t be absolutes.

In the story of creation, the Bible tells us God created Eve after saying that man should not be alone. But in the New Testament, Paul says it’s OK for some people to remain single.

On the one hand, you have God Himself saying man shouldn’t be alone. On the other, you have a follower saying in some cases, that’s perfectly fine.

Whose understanding are we relying on for singleness?

Some people, no matter how much others might deny it, are just not equipped to raise children. Many are, but some just aren’t.

Why is it wrong to recognize such a weakness and not subject a child to it? Ignoring that weakness, it seems to me, would be even more harmful.

Do you think people who would choose pets over children — or choose to have neither — are being selfish? Do you think people have a responsibility to raise multiple children?

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.