The comments – which are not the first the Pope has made criticising childless pet owners – drew criticism from animal groups.Discussing parenthood during a general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday, the pontiff lamented how pets ‘sometimes take the place of children’ in society.
‘Today… we see a form of selfishness,’ he said.
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‘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.’The head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics added – in comments that are likely to raise eyebrow – among childless pet owners, that the practice ‘is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity’. He told the Paul VI Hall: ‘Civilisation grows old without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and it is the country that suffers.’
The 85-year-old, who has been photographed stroking dogs, allowed a baby lamb to be draped over his shoulders during Epiphany in 2014 and even petted a tiger and a baby panther. But while his predecessor, Benedict XVI, was a cat lover, Francis is not thought to have a pet at his Vatican residence.exclusive Met officers fear Londoners don't trust them after Sarah Everard murder Italy’s International Organization for the Protection of Animals (OIPA) said it was ‘strange to think that the pope considers the love in our lives limited quantitatively’ and highlighted the sacrifices of volunteers who save the lives of animals.
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OIPA President Massimo Comparotto said: ‘It is evident that for Francis, animal life is less important than human life.
INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Having a dog in the house means more bacteria enters the home and gets inside the occupants (one study found “dog-related biodiversity” is especially high on pillowcases.) In turn, people with dogs seem to get ill less frequently and less severely than people with no pets.
‘But those who feel that life is sacred love life beyond species.’In 2014, Francis told Il Messaggero daily that having pets instead of children was ‘another phenomenon of cultural degradation’, adding that emotional relationships with pets are ‘easier’ than the ‘complex’ relationship between parents and children.
As he invited couples who are unable to have children for biological reasons to consider adoption, he urged potential parents ‘not to be afraid’ of the responsibility.
Goldfish have a reputation as short-lived creatures, but given proper care, they can live as long as 30 years in captivity. The oldest captive goldfish ever recorded was won at a fair in 1956 and died in 1999 at age 43.
‘Having a child is always a risk, but there is more risk in not having a child, in denying paternity,’ he said.
The Argentine Pope has in the past denounced the ‘demographic winter’, or falling birth rates in the developed world.
Earlier this year, he criticised modern society, saying careers and money-making trumps building a family for many, calling the mentality ‘gangrene for society’.
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INTERESTING FACT ABOUT YOUR PET: Dogs can be trained to to detect cancer and other diseases in humans. Cancerous cells release different metabolic waste products than healthy cells in the human body. Dogs may even be able to sniff out cancer cells simply through smelling someone’s breath.
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