I was warming up to Pope Francis and his papacy until last week. Vatican Radio reported that fifteen couples, with between 25 and 60 years’ experience in marriage, were in attendance to hear the Pope decree that part of their duties were to abide by fruitfulness – that is to have children. He said:
“These marriages, in which the spouses do not want children, in which the spouses want to remain without fertility. This culture of well-being from ten years ago convinced us: ‘It’s better not to have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free…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 is this not? Have you seen it? Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness. It is not fruitful, it does not do what Jesus does with his Church: He makes His Church fruitful.”
Pope Francis seemed to be warming to the role of dogs in our lives with the blessing last year of a guide dog owned by a visually-impaired radio journalist…
But this latest directive is a step backwards. I think in a world that is overpopulated by humans, this attitude is misguided. There are many people (some with, and some without, children) who devote their lives to the care of God’s creatures. We should not pass judgment on their life choices.