PARIS, France — Pope Francis on Wednesday publicly criticized people who decide to not have children but instead choose to have pets.
He argued their decision to "forgo parenthood" leads to a loss of "humanity" and causes damage to civilization, CNN reports.
"We see that people do not want to have children, or just one and no more. And many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one -- but they have two dogs, two cats ... Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children," the Pope said, according to CNN. "Yes, it's funny, I understand, but it is the reality. And this denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us, it takes away our humanity.
"And in this way civilization becomes aged and without humanity, because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood. And our homeland suffers, as it does not have children."
According to BBC News, he called the decision to not have children a form of "selfishness," CBS News reports.
"We have so many children without fathers and the challenges of this in society today, we notice," Pope Francis said while speaking to an audience about Saint Joseph, who was said to be Jesus' earthly father, CBS News explains. "Fathers are not born but made. A man does not become a father by bringing a child into the world, but by taking up the responsibility to care for that child."
The Pope then went on to say it's a bigger risk to not have children than to have them, claiming many children in the world are waiting to be taken care of, CBS News explains.
"How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them," Francis said, according to CNN. "Having a child is always a risk, either naturally or by adoption. But it is riskier not to have them. It is riskier to deny fatherhood, or to deny motherhood, be it real or spiritual."
Back in 2014, the Pope also warned people against using animals as a substitute for children which he says leads to the "bitterness of loneliness" in old age, The Washington Post reports.
"I pray that no one feel deprived of a paternal love," the Pope said, CBS News explains.