“Joseph shows us that this type of bond is not secondary; it is not an afterthought, no,” Pope Francis said. “This kind of choice is among the highest forms of love, and of fatherhood and motherhood. How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them.”
He also lauded individuals around the world who adopt children and called for simplifying adoption procedures.
But he added that “Today … we see a form of selfishness,” and that some individuals “do not want to have children, or just one and no more,” as translated in multiple reports.
“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,” he said.
“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,” he added.
This is not the first time the 85-year-old pope has addressed those who opt for pets instead of children. In 2014, he called the choice “another phenomenon of cultural degradation,” according to multiple reports.