Pope Francis told an audience at the Vatican in Rome on Wednesday that people who substitute pets for children act "selfishly." The Pope's comments follow his December warning of a "demographic winter" amid fears the global fertility rate will be halved by the next century.
"Today ... we see a form of selfishness," Pope Francis told the audience while discussing parenthood. "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 practice, said the leader of the world's 1.3 billion Catholics, "is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and diminishes us, takes away our humanity."
Thus, "civilization grows old without humanity because we lose the richness of fatherhood and motherhood, and it is the country that suffers," he concluded.
The pontiff has denounced the "demographic winter" in the past. The latest was back in December. He seems to be well informed about the world's falling birth rates in the developed world.
Several jaw-dropping reports over the last few years suggest the planet is experiencing a population crash. Researchers at the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation warned in 2020 that 23 countries are projected to see their populations halved by 2100.
While the pontiff has advocated for the world to overcome a demographic winter, there has been a counterforce of global elites trying to cut the population on the planet by half.