Pope Francis says choosing not to have children is ‘selfish’
Speech condemns a ‘depressed’ society that sees children as ‘worrisome, a weight’
Pope Francis during the general audience in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, February 11th, 2015. Photograph: Reuters/Alessandro Bianchi
Pope Francis has chided couples who choose not to have children, saying the decision is a “selfish” act.
Speaking during his general audience at St Peter’s Square, he said: “A society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society.
“The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished.”
The address was focused primarily on the joy of children and their role in society. The pope recalled a childhood memory, when his mother was asked which of her five children was her favourite. “She would say, ‘I have five children like I have five fingers. If they beat one of my fingers, all five hurt. All of my children are mine, but each one is different,’” he said.
“You love your child because he is a child, not because he is beautiful, healthy, and good; not because he thinks like me, or embodies my desires. A child is a child: a life created by us but destined for him.”
He said there was a strong correlation between a society’s level of hope and its “inter-generational harmony”.
The remarks echoed his earlier comments on the topic of childlessness. Last year, he warned against the lure of a “culture of wellbeing” that can come when a couple does not have children and has the money and freedom to take nice holidays and buy a second home in the countryside.
“It might be better, more comfortable, to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog,” he said. “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.”
Last week, Pope Francis said that hitting a child was an acceptable form of discipline, although it was important to maintain their “dignity” in the process.
The Vatican later clarified the remark, saying the pope did not endorse violence or cruelty against a child.