Pope Francis suggested that people who choose pets over children were acting selfishly. He was addressing an audience in Rome and told them that substituting children for pets was a "denial" of parenthood. He added: "Today, we see a form of selfishness. We see that some people do not want to have a child. Sometimes they have just one, and that's it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children." Francis encouraged couples to adopt children. He said: "Having a child is always a risk, but there is more risk in not having a child."
Pope Francis has spoken out on this topic before. In 2014, he said choosing pets over children could harm our future. He called it "cultural degradation". He said the emotional relationship with pets was "easier" than the "complex" relationship with children. He called the downward trend in birth rates in many countries a "demographic winter". Not everyone agrees with the Pope's comments. The New York Post said Francis took his name from St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. It added: "Dogs.…make us better.…They are superior to most people."