Pope has suggested that people who choose to have pets instead of children were acting selfishly. Pope Francis was addressing worshippers in Rome. He told his audience that substituting children for pets was "denial of fatherhood and motherhood". He added: "Today, we see form of selfishness. We see that some people do not want to have child. Sometimes they have just one, and that's it, but they have dogs and cats that take place of children." Pope Francis encouraged couples to adopt children. He said: "We must not be afraid to choose path of adoption, to take risk of welcoming children. Having child is always risk, but there is more risk in not having child."
It is not first time Pope Francis has spoken out on this topic. In 2014, he said choosing pets over children was detrimental to our future. He called it "phenomenon of cultural degradation". He commented that emotional relationship with pets was "easier" than "complex" relationship with children. In continuing this theme, he called downward trend in birth rates across many countries "demographic winter". Not everyone agrees with Pope's comments. The New York Post pointed out contradiction of Francis taking his name from St. Francis of Assisi, patron saint of animals. It added: "Dogs make us more human. They make us better. Dogs, I think, are superior to most people."