Pope Francis Called Out On Twitter For Suggesting Couples Who Opt For Pets Over Children Are 'Selfish'

Not even Pope Francis, who has been seen as a much needed reformer by many Catholics, is above backlash on social media. He came under fire on Wednesday after he suggested that couples who have pets instead of children are selfish, and further warned that the decision to forgo parenthood could lead to a loss of humanity and could even be a detriment to civilization, CNN reported.

“We see that people do not want to have children, or just one and no more. And many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one — but they have two dogs, two cats … Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children,” the Pope said. “Yes, it’s funny, I understand, but it is the reality. And this denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us, it takes away our humanity. And in this way civilization becomes aged and without humanity, because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood. And our homeland suffers, as it does not have children.”

While the comments certainly echo the Catholic Church’s teachings about the importance of couples bearing and raising children, the reaction was swift and loud on social media. Many users shared images of their pets and expressed their love for their animal friends, while others were quite blunt and direct on the matter.

“The Pope is entitled to his opinion… but pet ownership is making a strong case here,” wrote satirist Heather Gardner (@heathergtv), who shared a photo of her dog.

“Cat twitter getting mentally prepared to drag Pope Francis for saying people who choose pets over having kids are selfish,” suggested @clockoutwars.

Author Sarah Maclean (@sarahmaclean) was more direct, tweeting, “Billionaires and oil companies are right there, and Pope Francis is out here calling people with dogs selfish.”

“Well, the Pope can have a stupid opinion. And this is a really stupid opinion,” suggested Kimberly Johnson (@AuthorKimberley), host of the StartMeUp Podcast.

Children’s author Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) was equally direct on the Pope’s comments, “Even a broken pope is right once in a while.”

Popes In Glass Houses…

Users on Twitter also were quick to address the fact that Pope Francis has no children.

“Interesting words from the Pope, who has apparently forgotten he has himself deliberately chosen not to have children,” wrote Leo Montague (@LeoMontague91).

“Ah yes, the Pope, famously and unselfishly has loads of kids,” said writer/columnist Tracy King (@tkingdot)

“First I am normally very supportive of Pope Francis. Second does this mean people who choose to become priests are selfish? Third he might want to open his mind to idea that many are actually making an unselfish decision not to have kids,” pondered author Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd).

Lines Of Decorum

There were, as expected, a fair number of tweets that also addressed the issues of Catholic priests who have been accused of molesting children, which further suggested that the lines of decorum are often crossed on the social platforms. Simply put, it seems that in the age of social media, Pope Francis is seen as fair game – despite the fact that he likely didn’t mean for this to be such a controversial issue or topic.

“To each his own: after all, these days, pets are children to many people, and more adults are waiting longer and longer to have children if they decide to have them at all,” said Scott Steinberg, brand market expert and social media pundit.

“Also, last I checked the decision to have kids – which is life-altering and comes with countless responsibilities – is a personal choice,” added Steinberg.

Of course, it was Pope Francis had suggested that such a personal choice was a selfish one, and as noted in the above tweets – among thousands of others – many users felt the need to respond. Clearly, the Pope isn’t seen to be above such direct responses.

“These days any individual is fair game on social media – political, religious, you name it,” added Steinberg. “If you choose to share your thought in the court of public opinion, don’t be surprised if the public decides to respond in turn.”

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