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Society loses when ‘dogs and cats take the place of children’: Pope Francis

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Pope Francis greets a child wearing a bib with the name Francesco during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican January 5, 2022. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

Denial of fatherhood and motherhood “diminishes us”

By Courtney Mares

Pope Francis said on Wednesday that it is a civilisational loss when dogs and cats replace children in society, encouraging couples to “take the risk” to become parents.

“The other day, I was talking about the demographic winter that we have today … many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one — but they have two dogs, two cats,” Pope Francis said at his general audience on 5 January.

“Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children. Yes, it’s funny, I understand, but it is the reality, and this denial of fatherhood and motherhood diminishes us, takes away humanity.”

Speaking in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall, the pope said that with this “selfishness” on the part of some couples, “civilisation becomes older” as the “richness of fatherhood and motherhood is lost.”

Pope Francis speaks during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican January 5, 2022. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

“I ask St Joseph for the grace to awaken consciences and think about this: about having children. Fatherhood and motherhood are the fullness of a person’s life. Think about this,” he said.

The pope’s first general audience of 2022 was marked by some changes. The Vatican announced on 5 January that from now on religious and lay Vatican employees would read the greetings in different languages at the Wednesday audience.

For the first time, lay men and women read the language greetings. Sister Andrea Lorena Chacón, a member of the Eucharistic Missionaries of Nazareth, read the Spanish-language greeting, while Christopher Wells, an employee of Vatican Radio, was the English reader.

At the live-streamed audience, the pope continued his series of meditations on the life of St Joseph by focusing on the saint’s role as the foster father of Jesus.

Pope Francis greets a child during his general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican January 5, 2022. Photo: CNS/Paul Haring

“This particular aspect of Joseph allows us today to reflect on fatherhood and motherhood. And this, I believe, is very important: to think about fatherhood today because we live in an era of notorious orphanhood,” Pope Francis said.

The pope said that one can sense a feeling of orphanhood among many people.

“May St Joseph, who took the place of the real father, God, help us to understand how to resolve this sense of orphanhood that is so harmful to us today,” the pope said.

Pope Francis spent much of his audience speaking about “accepting life through the path of adoption,” which he called “a generous and beautiful” act.

This article was originally published at Catholic News Agency.