While addressing an association of Italian otolaryngologists and pediatricians at the Vatican this Saturday, Pope Francis expressed regret that people nowadays often prefer having dogs instead of children.
"You pediatricians, in particular, are points of reference for young couples. You assist them in their task of accompanying growing children. Children are always a gift and a blessing from the Lord," emphasized the Pontiff in his speech.
The Holy Father then warned that "Italy is a country that is aging: we hope it can reverse this trend by creating favorable conditions for young people to regain confidence and the courage and joy of becoming parents." "Perhaps I should not say this, but I do: today, people prefer having a little dog over a child. Your task is very limited, but the work of veterinarians is growing! And this is not a good sign," Pope Francis noted.
This is not the first time the Pontiff has touched upon this issue. In May of this year, he mentioned scolding a woman who treated her dog like a child; while in January 2022, he lamented that many couples give dogs and cats the place of children.
"Many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have only one because they do not want more, but they have two dogs, two cats... Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children," Pope Francis pointed out on that occasion.
Two dangerous phenomena in health
In his speech, the Pope also referred to "two opposite and equally dangerous phenomena that are spreading: on one hand, the pursuit of health at all costs, the utopia of eliminating disease, removing the everyday experience of vulnerability and limitation."
On the other hand, "the abandonment of the weaker and more fragile, in some cases with the proposal of death as the only way. But medicine that renounces healing and entrenches itself behind dehumanizing procedures is no longer the art of curing." In this situation, Pope Francis explained, true compassion is needed, the kind shown by the Good Samaritan in the Gospel, "who does not turn away, but leans over the wounded man and alleviates his suffering, without questioning, without letting his heart and mind be closed by prejudice, without thinking of his own benefit."
Although not mentioned directly, the Pope's words come just days after the death of eight-month-old baby Indi Gregory in the United Kingdom, whom the Pope had objected to being disconnected from life support, a judicial decision made against the parents' wishes.