In a Mass with about 15 married couples in the Vatican on Monday, Pope Francis strongly warned against a cultural mentality that sees children as nothing but a burden, and he said that merely substituting animals for children in a married relationship can lead to what he called the “bitterness of loneliness” in old age, Religion News Service has reported. The Pope strongly criticized those couples who are able to have children but who consciously choose not to, saying they are influenced by what he called a “culture of well-being” that tells people that life is better without children. “You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be carefree,” the Pope gave as an example of the cultural mentality. “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 not? Have you seen it? Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.“
“Married life must be persevering, because otherwise love cannot go forward. Perseverance in love, in good times and in difficult times, when there are problems: problems with the children, economic problems,” the Holy Father said. The Pope’s strong remarks in support of the Church’s traditional teaching on the nature of the family, family life, and the regulation of birth undermine the bizarre image that the secular news media often paints of Francis, that of a liberal who will not stand as strongly for the Church’s moral teachings.
The Pope’s clear remarks come in the wake of data showing a decline in birthrates in many Western countries, including the United States.