Pope to Young Couples: Have Babies, Not Pets

Pope Francis says that married couples should avoid the “bitterness of loneliness” in old age by having babies.

During daily Mass with fifteen married couples at the Domus Sancta Marthae on Monday, June 2, the Holy Father cautioned against substituting pets for children.  He told the couples, who had been married from 25 to 50 years, that a successful Christian marriage requires “faithfulness, perseverance and maturity.”

Religion News Service reported:

But he went a step further and strongly criticized those couples who choose not to have children, saying they had been influenced by a culture of “well-being” that says life is better without kids.

“You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be carefree,” the pope said.

“It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or not? Have you seen it?

“Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.”

The birth rate has fallen dramatically, both in Italy and in the United States.  In Italy, figures released last week show a record low rate, with only 515,000 babies born in 2013, a decrease of 64,000 over the past five years.

The Pew Forum reported that the U.S. birth rate dropped 8% between 2007 and 2010, and plunged to an all-time low in 2011.

*     *     *     *     *

The Psalmist would agree:

Lo, sons are a heritage from the Lord,
the fruit of the womb a reward.
4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the sons of one’s youth.
5 Happy is the man who has
his quiver full of them!

Psalm 127:3-5

  • Kay

    Well, I don’t expect to see THAT one in the mainstream headlines any time soon. I’d LOL, but its more sad, really.

  • David J. White

    When I lived in Rome in the summer of 2005, I roughly estimated that for every young couple I saw pushing a baby in a stroller, I saw five young couples walking dogs.

  • Jared

    “Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.”

    How many marriages even come to an “old age” anymore, even with children?

    • Nick

      Isn’t that the saddest fact of all :/

    • Iwishyouwell

      Wow. So I guess infertile couples are destined to an old age filled with the bitterness of loneliness…? Just…wow.

      Of course, if you do have a baby and happen to have that baby out of wedlock, you’ll be shamed and condemned, so don’t bother getting married. You’re already such a sinner that it doesn’t matter.

      • Ana Alexandra

        Infertile couples can adopt. And the Church doesn’t at all teach that if someone had a baby without wedlock, they shouldn’t “bother getting married because they’re already such a sinner”. Neither is the person condemned. Teaching that something is a sin is not condemning, it’s helping the person to come back to God and to the Church. If they had a baby without marriage, they would be welcomed to confess and get married. Catholics would also be glad that they didn’t get an abortion and kept the baby. I’m aware of a Catholic organization that helps teenage and unwed mothers who are pregnant and have no where to go, or are pressured to have an abortion, etc. All of them are helped to keep their baby, raise the baby or give him/her up for adoption, and find employment. They can also stay at the organization if they have no place to go, and be provided with food/baby supplies/etc. How is this “shamed and condemned”? The teaching about sin and confessing sin and repentance, is to help the person come back to God, – it’s something charitable, and goes together with charitable acts to help the person in material ways. (like helping a single mother to support her child). Also, as Catholics we consider ourselves to be sinners as well, and the Church is a hospital for sinners, and everyone is meant to become a saint, whatever their past. I’m not sure your view is but it’s not the Church teaching, or rather a misunderstanding of it… if this is what you were told (“don’t bother getting married” etc) – that’s not something I’ve ever heard in the Church. The person would be encouraged to confess their sins and repent, but also marry, and there is hope for everyone to find salvation, live a good life, and become holy.

        • Iwishyouwell

          It’s funny how “adoption” is the knee jerk reaction from people like you. You do realize that adoption implies a tragic situation, right? So when you promote adoption, you’re kind of hoping for tragic situations you can profit from.

          Also, if you scroll down, you’ll see that the author of this blog goes out of her way to judge and condemn a woman who had a baby and then got married afterwards — a women Ms. Schiffer claims is unrepentant based on Ms. Schiffer’s personal opinion of her FB page.

          So, yeah, actually, Catholics do judge and condemn people for having babies out of wedlock, while, in a stunning show of hypocrisey, hope to profit from the same sins they’re condemning people for.

      • Ana Alexandra

        Just to add to my other point, if a priest is not immediately willing for a couple to marry if they had a child – it’s not because they are “too much of sinners” and it “doesn’t matter”, but because in order for marriage to actually be a valid Sacrament, it needs to be entered into freely, not under coercion. The priest would in fact do this with any marriage: make sure the couple actually intends to freely marry each other. As for sin, we are all sinners, and as a Catholic I go to Confession and repent of my sins and try not to sin again. It’s something that affects us all, and the Church always accepts ANYONE who repents.

  • James

    Pope is Catholic, news at 11.

    Also a shocking exposé about what wild bears do in the woods.

  • http://outsidetheautisticasylum.blogspot.com/ Theodore Seeber

    Materialism. You know what else has dropped 8% since 2007?

  • Jomel

    Couldn’t agree more. I personally believe that having kids is the essence of a marriage because it strengthens the relationship between a couple. It also symbolizes the love they have for one another and embodies the commitment they made when the said their vows in front of the altar. Most people would say that having kids is a “society” thing, but I don’t think so. I believe that having kids is the primary – if not the most important – goal of a married couple.

  • Emilianne Hackett

    And while you’re at it, stop treating and referring to the pets you do have as children. Pets are not children.

    • Christine Vanoff

      They are, as far as I’m concerned. Adopting an animal is no different from adopting a human child. I observed what my older sisters experienced after they had children, and at an early age decided, “no thanks”.
      I’ve never regretted my choice, The vast majority of us who choose to remain childfree don’t.

  • JC

    What about the living in sin part. What about the consequences of living in sin. What did Mother Mary say in Fatima, 97 + years ago, about more people are going to hell due to the sin of impurity than any other sin. I don’t think that we’ve become purer since then

  • Samaria

    Wow! So the love I have for my husband is not enough?! Our marriage is somehow not REAL? Yet another reason people have fallen away from the Catholic Church!

    • Brian Walsh

      If you are looking to learn why the Church teaches these things, Theology of the Body is a great resource. It helped me to understand why an openness to children is a key aspect of marriage.

      Or you could always talk to a priest.

    • Faithful to the Truth

      Marriage is one man and one women joining together in mutual love and respect and being open to children. Society has forgotten that children are a gift from God and it is not truly a marriage without children.

    • Kelly

      Samaria, the pope is not saying “Have children or your marriage isn’t valid.” I think he is saying to be open to children. Couples who cannot conceive have valid marriages even though they can’t have children. Some people might not be called to raise kids. Pope Francis is just trying to make the point that pets are not children and that trying to avoid children by instead having pets is a mistake. Also, if you look at the Trinity, the Father and the Son continuously love each other so much that it results in an outpouring of the Holy Spirit. In the same way, a husband and a wife love each other so much that in some cases it results in the creation of new life. Children are the offspring of love. Pets? Well, they are the offspring of animal instincts.

  • J. Quirarte

    Once again the crazies twist the words of the pope. So now my fellow Catholics will scorn me and my wife for walking down the street with our cute little rescued dogs, which by the way, we do love immensely – and without shame. Our dogs have been a great blessing to us, and we are very grateful to God for ALL of our blessings. *What the pope IS saying, is: don’t deny the blessing of life in the sacrament of marriage and don’t try substituting it with something counterfeit…IF substituting is your actual intention. *He did NOT say don’t rescue animals, don’t own pets, don’t act as loving stewards over them as part of God’s creation, and don’t love them. Stop using the pope to validate your scorn. He’s being Catholic and he’s making a pastoral point. He, unlike many if you, is not despising animal lovers. He’s promoting human life.

  • sarah

    I get what they are saying but me and my husband can’t have children and while we want to in the future adopt you never know how its going to turn out.We would love children but for now our pets keep our minds off of it.


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