Dog lovers react to Pope’s remarks that childless pet owners are 'selfish'

By Emily Sleight

The Pope has suggested that people who opt to remain childless and love cats, dogs and other animals are ‘selfish.’

His comments have caused anger and outrage among childless pet owners and behaviourists who claim he is ‘talking nonsense.’

During a weekly general audience at the Vatican, he said: “Today... we see a form of selfishness. 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."

He claimed that couples who do not procreate are “diminishing us” and “taking away our humanity”.

Many child-free pet owners have hit back at the remarks claiming that the relationships you have with your pets are just as important as human beings.

Niki French, a dog owner and trainer with no children, said: “The planet has more than enough humans on it already.

“I chose to not have children and couldn’t imagine a life without animals. I think you can love a pet every bit as much as you love another human being.”

For some pet owners, it’s not always their choice to not have children, and pets for them are a comforting alternative.

Tracey Morgan, a child-free pet owner, added: “I’m 43 and sadly can’t have kids, I have a house full of rescue animals and I guess they are my substitute children.

“I honestly think if I had no one to love or take care of I wouldn’t survive, my animals are my family.”

Tracey, like others, have labelled the Pope’s comments as ‘offensive’ and ‘irresponsible’.

She continued: “The fact he’s making out that people like myself are ‘lesser’ is crazy, with climate change and overpopulation, surely it’s a good thing not everyone is choosing to have children?”

Pope Francis has also argued for the ‘simplification of adoption procedures’ so that the ‘dream of so many spouses who wish to give themselves in love, can come true.’

Perhaps it’s not everyone’s dream at this current moment in time, with many adults choosing to live without children and having pets instead.

Zoe Willingham is a child-free dog behaviourist who has taken in 17 pet dogs and over 50 cats, she insists she ‘could talk for days’ about pet benefits.

She said: “The world is quite a messed up place right now, there’s no wonder people are thinking twice about bringing a child into the world.

“Having a pet is a joy, 3.2 million people took on pets during lockdown which really demonstrates our love for animals.

“Animals can be the most wonderful addition to anyone’s life, offering companionship, increasing owner confidence and strengthening our mental health.”

Although his predecessor Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is a big lover of cats, Pope Francis does not have a pet living with him inside the Vatican.


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