In Defense of Animals’ Interfaith Vegan Coalition and the Compassionate Consortium oppose Pope Francis’ recent statement that not having children and living with cats and dogs are selfish acts.
In his speech of January 5, Pope Francis said: “A lot of couples don’t have children because they don’t want to, or they only have one – but they have two dogs, two cats… And this denial of paternity or maternity diminishes us, it takes away our humanity … a man or woman who does not develop the sense of fatherhood or motherhood, they lack something, something fundamental, something important.
Reverend Sarah Bowen, animal chaplain and co-founder of the Compassionate Consortium said, “Animal lovers around the world are breathless, but Pope Francis’ words offer us all the opportunity to deeply consider our relationships with other species. With all due respect to the Pope, in a time of climate crisis, economic pressure, war, poverty, hunger and man-made violence, some of us lack nothing by choosing not to have to. ‘children. On the contrary, we gain something: a genuine respect and reverence for the intricacies of living in an interspecific world where the needs of human and non-human animals are often in conflict and always entangled. “
Judy Carman, MA, author and co-founder of the Interfaith Vegan Coalition, agreed and asked all of us to question the content of such a papal announcement. “Many of our most pressing issues today, including the sixth mass extinction of wildlife, are a result of human disconnection and fear of nature. For many, a family dog, cat, or rabbit may be their only connection to the world of communication between species. Animals have a lot to teach us and we had better listen to them in these troubled times. The Bible itself speaks of it: “But ask the animals, and they will teach you, or the birds of the air, and they will tell you; or talk to the land, and it will teach you, or let the fish of the sea tell you. (Job 12: 7-25 7) ”
Reverend Bowen adds that Pope Francis’ the suggestion that couples should adopt children if they are unable to have them ignores the procedural and legal complexities of adoption, the significant cost of adoption and the upbringing of a child who may be out of reach for many couples, and problems for the LGBTQ community, adding, “While concerns for the welfare of orphans are admirable, the Church cannot have it both ways. Pope Francis suggests that humans who cannot have children should adopt one, while Catholic organizations continue to deny same-sex couples the right to adopt.
Studies have shown that living in an interspecific household has many benefits, such as decreasing depression and feelings of loneliness, decreasing stress and anxiety, and improving cardiovascular health. On the other hand, some people who raise animals abuse them, or buy them from breeders or puppy mills instead of adopting them. Feeding pets also often means other animals will be killed on factory farms. We recognize that animal welfare is a complicated and controversial subject.
Yet because Pope Francis has made prior efforts to raise awareness of humanity’s impact on Earth and the interconnection of Creation, his words this week surprised many. For example, in “Laudato Si”, his 2015 encyclical on the environment, he writes: “Because all creatures are connected, each one is to be cherished with love and respect. We believe this week’s comments are a step backwards.
To suggest that loving – or living with – cats and dogs is selfish, is to imply that love is something of which the supply is limited. We prefer to take into account Pope Francis’ previous words and cherish each animal with love and respect.
As Dostoyevsky wrote: “Love all of God’s creation, all of his creation and every grain of sand. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love animals, love plants, love everything… And you will end up loving the whole world with a constant and universal love.
“We applaud Pope Francis for his commitment to the environment, but we question his intentions to rebuke those who choose to live with pets instead of having human children. Adopting or saving pets can be a welcome source of unconditional love and an environmentally friendly alternative to human children, ”said Lisa Levinson, of In defense of animals and co-founder of the Interfaith Vegan Coalition. “The members of the Interfaith Vegan Coalition and our partner organization Animal Interfaith Alliance represent thousands of people of diverse faiths and voice the concerns of the faith-based vegan community. ”
Our rapidly growing population night everyone. The growth of the human population is stimulating animal agriculture, which is the biggest contributor to the environmental crisis, and threatens all life on Earth. In an effort to remedy this, the Interfaith Vegan Coalition, Animal Interfaith Alliance and Compassionate Consortium are among many people and organizations urging world leaders to embrace the Herbal treat as a companion to the Paris Agreement to prevent animal agriculture from causing further devastation.
In defense of animals started on Interfaith Vegan Coalition help animal activists and spiritual leaders bring vegan values to spiritual, ethical and religious communities. The coalition offers faith based tools help all traditions of faith and age-old wisdom to practice the ideals of non-violence, kindness and harmlessness to all animals. The coalition is made up of 34 member organizations, 2 allied organizations and one partner organization Animal Interfaith Alliance comprising 17 organizations, all working in harmony for a common cause.