It’s None Of The Pope’s Business If People Don’t Want Children

He called pet owners 'selfish' and said they should be parents instead.

Pope Francis

by Lydia Spencer-Elliott |

The Catholic church has, historically, quite enjoyed telling women what to do with their bodies. And in a pretty on-brand announcement, Pope Francis claimed that couples who would rather have pets than children are ‘selfish’.

Speaking to an audience at the Vatican he preached: ‘Today… we see a form of selfishness. 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.’

He claimed that having pets was a ‘denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity.’ The consequence of having a dog, cat, fish, or ferret, rather than a baby is allegedly that ‘civilisation grows old without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and it is the country that suffers.’

‘Having a child is always a risk, but there is more in not having a child,’ he concluded.

It’s hard to know where to start with this. Obviously, to many of us, it's a no-brainer that the world should be pro-choice- but try telling that to the spiritual leader of a church with a controversial stance on artificial contraception and which considers abortion to be a sin.

Ironically, Pope Francis is the same leader that has thrown his weight behind combatting climate change for the ‘future of humanity’. According to a study published in the Environmental Research Letters, having one fewer child is the most effective way for people to cut carbon emissions ahead of selling your car, cutting long-haul flights, or going vegetarian.

There are already more than seven billion humans on the planet, so it’s understandable if people with climate concerns are hesitant to add more. In a poll by Population Matters, nearly a third of 18- to 24-year-olds say they now want fewer or no children due to worries about their environmental impact.

Additionally, having a child is notoriously expensive. In Britain, we have the second most expensive childcare in the world, women’s earnings are up to 45% lower once they’ve had children, there have been benefit cuts, rising energy costs and notoriously unaffordable housing. What part of this screams ‘now is a good time to become a parent?’

While it takes roughly £12,000 to raise a cat and £30,800 to raise a large dog, according to the People’s Dispensary For Sick Animals (PDSA), it takes approximately £71,611 for a couple and £97,862 for a single parent to raise one child, according to the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). That’s a big financial jump.

And, obviously, everyone has the capacity to be selfish regardless of whether or not they’ve given birth. Arguably, raising a child badly is more selfish than not having one at all. With the environment and financial impact of having a child considered, being a pet owner rather than a parent isn’t selfish but responsible.

The individual choice (and it always should be a choice) of whether or not to bring a child into the world can’t be taken lightly. It’s a monumental life-changing responsibility that calls for consideration of your mental health, finances, living-situation, career goals and environmental ethics. It certainly shouldn’t be done just because a man in a big hat told you so.

And, please, someone remind us how many children the Pope has? That's right, zero.

READ MORE: The Cost Of Childcare Is Catastrophic For Women

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