Even Pope Francis who is widely regarded as a reformer and savior of many Catholics has not been immune to backlash from social media. CNN reported that he was criticized for suggesting that people who choose to have children with their pets are selfish. He also warned that a decision not to parent could result in a decline of humanity, as well as a threat to the civilisation.
We see people don’t want children or only one. 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 … The Pope stated that dogs and cats can take over children. It’s funny. But it’s the truth. It takes our humanity away, and this is what we are doing when we deny fatherhood or motherhood. Because it has lost the wealth of fatherhood or motherhood, civilization is aging and lacking humanity. Our homeland is a victim because it doesn’t have children.
Although the comments are true to the Catholic Church teachings on the importance of parents having children and their marriages, social media reacted quickly and loudly. While many users shared pictures of their pet pets to show their affection, others spoke out directly.
“The Pope is entitled to his opinion… but pet ownership is making a strong case here,” wrote satirist Heather Gardner (@heathergtv), who shared a photo of her dog.
“Cat Twitter getting mentally ready to drag Pope Francis because people choose pets over having children are selfish,” tweeted @clockoutwars.
Sarah Maclean, @sarahmaclean, was directer, tweeting: “Billionaires, oil companies and Pope Francis are there right there and calling people with dogs selfish.”
“Well, the Pope could have a silly opinion. This is an extremely stupid opinion,” Kimberly Johnson (@AuthorKimberley), the host of StartMeUp Podcast, said.
Matt Walsh, children’s author (@MattWalshBlog), was also direct about the Pope’s remarks: “Even broken popes are right once in awhile.”
Popes Live In Glass Houses
Twitter users also quickly addressed the fact that Pope Francis doesn’t have any children.
Leo Montague, @LeoMontague91 wrote: “Interesting words by the Pope who apparently forgot he himself has deliberately chosen not have children.”
Tracy King, a writer/columnist, said, “Ah yes. The Pope, famedly and unselfishly, has lots of kids.”
First, I support Pope Francis. Does this mean that people who become priests are selfish or not? “Third, he may want to be open to the idea that many people make an unselfish choice not to have children,” thought Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd).
Lines Of Decorum
It was not surprising that there were many tweets that addressed Catholic priests being accused of child molestation. Simply put, it seems that in the age of social media, Pope Francis is seen as fair game – despite the fact that he likely didn’t mean for this to be such a controversial issue or topic.
Scott Steinberg (brand market expert, social media pundit) said, “To each his merit: After all, pets these days are children to many people and more adults wait longer to have children, if at all.”
“Also, last I checked the decision to have kids – which is life-altering and comes with countless responsibilities – is a personal choice,” added Steinberg.
Of course, it was Pope Francis had suggested that such a personal choice was a selfish one, and as noted in the above tweets – among thousands of others – many users felt the need to respond. Evidently, such direct responses are not reserved for the Pope.
“These days any individual is fair game on social media – political, religious, you name it,” added Steinberg. If you share your thoughts in public opinion, it’s not surprising that the public will respond.