I am going to weigh in on this debate because I have to. The Pope says that people have got to have kids otherwise it is a denial of their humanity. It’s selfish not to have kids and to have companion animals instead. That’s what he’s saying. He’s completely ignoring the fact that, arguably, there is a population explosion in certain parts of the world which is testing humanity in terms of being able to feed and sustain ourselves.
And the more people there are, the more damage we do to the planet. We are incapable of protecting the planet it seems at present. And the more people there are, the less wild animals there are living in their habitat because human activity pushes them off the planet. These factors have been ignored in his statement.
Although, set against that, certain countries such as Russia are suffering from a decline in population. There are other countries with a similar problem (Germany needs more labour for instance). This results in a higher proportion of elderly people who are not contributing to the state which in turn puts pressure on the younger people to support them through their taxes. This creates an economic problem to the governments of those countries.
So, there are two sides to the argument. However, at a fundamental level his statement is incorrect in my view. He is denigrating companion animals such as cats and dogs. A lot of people think that a companion animal is better than a human partner.
And a lot of people have no choice in any case. They live alone. They can’t find a partner to get along with. If people were easier to get along with, perhaps we could live together more often. How many broken marriages are there in the world? Marriage is almost a failed idea. It doesn’t work in about 50% of the cases.
Take this guy, he has said on Facebook that his wife just left him but is cat loves him which is clear for all the world to see in the video.
Note: This is a video from another website which is embedded here. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.
And bringing up kids is very expensive. It costs about a quarter million pounds in the UK to raise a child to independence. Not everybody can afford that. Some people think they can afford it but they lean on the state for welfare to achieve it. This puts further pressure on the state.
And of course, the Pope himself has never had kids. So, as mentioned in the title, he is being hypocritical. And it is believed that he has never had a pet of any kind. If it’s true, he has not enjoyed the rewards of that relationship. It’s not clear why he has not had a companion dog or cat. He is seen to be friendly towards animals when travelling and meeting people. However, this may be colouring his point of view. Perhaps if he had lived with a cat or dog when he was younger, perhaps as a child, he would have a different viewpoint now? I don’t think he’s qualified to make pronouncements about companion animals when he has never lived with one.
His opinion appears to be based upon old-fashioned views. Perhaps in days gone by there was a need to procreate and create more people in order to drive the economies of those countries where they live. But nowadays a lot of people think that European countries for example have reached near saturation levels in terms of population. That would apply to the UK and perhaps The Netherlands.
The continent with the quickest population growth is Africa where many married couples believe that they have got to breed and have lots of kids in order for the kids to support them. They feel that the family is stronger economically if there have a bigger family. I get that and in poorer countries, at an individual level, this may work. But in a wider context I don’t think it does work. When do you stop? When do people stop procreating? There must be a limit because there is a finite limit to the amount of space on this planet.
And in Africa they have the greatest collection of iconic wild animals on the planet. They are all being pushed off the planet by human population growth. And there is massive deforestation. Many wild species depend upon the forest to survive. Their home is being razed to the ground for plantations and other commercial enterprises such as mining.
Take any country where there is a large human population and continuing growth of that population and you will find an increase in animal-human conflict. There is continual conflict, for example, between the tiger and people in India and Bangladesh. This inevitably results in loss of life both of tigers and of people. One of the great problems of wild animal conservation is reducing animal-human conflicts which take place in a range of forms. Often times it is farmers in conflict with predators because they eat their livestock. This leads to retaliatory killings.
Do we want all this? Do we care about conservation of wildlife and the protection of nature? The economists constantly insist that there must be economic growth. This is a basic model for nearly all economists. None of them suggest sustainability i.e. a plateau of GDP which neither goes up or down. A stable state in economic terms is not acceptable to economists.
In order to drive a growing economy, you have to have more people. You need labour to increase a country’s GDP. That means people have to breed i.e. procreate. But there is a limit to that as mentioned.
The Pope does not recommend a limit to the amount of procreation and for how long. He simply believes that we have to have kids and if we don’t it is a rejection of our humanity. A lot of people disagree with this and have made it clear on social media.
The Pope thinks that having pets is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and “diminishes us, takes away our humanity.”
In 2014 the Pope said that having pets instead of children was “another phenomenon of cultural degradation”. And he said that having a relationship with a companion animal was less complex and easier than having a relationship with other people and with your children. And he equates this with cultural degradation.
My comment on that is that people often want a simpler and more reliable relationship and life (life’s getting too complicated anyway). There’s nothing more reliable and consistent than a good companion cat or dog. They are great substitutes for humans. You might substitute the word “complexity” with the word “problematic”. We don’t want complexity. We want stability and normality and an easy life.
We don’t want arguing partners and arguing kids and inner turmoil in the family. We prefer a nice quiet environment with a cat on our lap and a dog at our feet. Thank you, Pope, but I disagree with you as do many other hundreds of millions of people.