VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis said on Wednesday that it is a loss of civilization when dogs and cats replace children in society, encouraging couples to “take the risk” of becoming parents.
“The other day I was talking about the demographic winter we have today… many couples don’t have children because they don’t want them, or they only have one – but they have two dogs, two cats, ”Pope Francis said in his general audience on January 5.
“Yes, dogs and cats are replacing children. Yes, it’s funny, I understand, but it’s reality, and this denial of fatherhood and motherhood is diminishing us, taking away humanity.
Speaking in the Paul VI Vatican Hall, the Pope said that with this “selfishness” on the part of some couples, “civilization is aging” while “the wealth of fatherhood and motherhood is lost.”
“I ask Saint Joseph for the grace to awaken consciences and to think about this: having children. Fatherhood and motherhood are the fullness of a person’s life. Think about it, ”he said.
The Pope’s first general audience in 2022 was marked by some changes. The Vatican announced on January 5 that from now on, Vatican religious and laity will read greetings in different languages during Wednesday’s audience.
For the first time, lay men and women read greetings in tongues. Sister Andrea Lorena Chacon, a missionary sister of the Eucharist, read the greeting in Spanish, while Christopher Wells, an employee of Vatican Radio, was the reader in English.
During the live broadcast audience, the Pope continued his series of meditations on the life of Saint Joseph with a focus on the saint’s role as the adoptive father of Jesus.
“This particular aspect of Joseph allows us today to reflect on fatherhood and motherhood. And that, I believe, is very important: to think about fatherhood today because we live in a time of notorious orphanage, ”said Pope Francis.
The Pope said that there can be a feeling of orphanhood in many people.
“May Saint Joseph, who took the place of the true father, God, help us to understand how to resolve this feeling of orphanage which is so harmful to us today,” said the P // ope.
Pope Francis spent much of his audience talking about “accepting life by the path of adoption”, which he called a “generous and beautiful” act.
“Joseph shows us that this type of connection is not secondary, it is not an afterthought. This type of choice is among the highest forms of love, fatherhood and motherhood, ”he said.
“How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them. And how many spouses wish to be fathers and mothers, but fail for biological reasons; or, although they already have children, they want to share family affection with those who have been deprived of it. You should not be afraid to choose the path of adoption, to take the ‘risk’ of acceptance.
Pope Francis stressed that “having a child is always a risk, both natural and adopted”. But he added that “it is more risky not to have one”.
“It is more risky to deny fatherhood, or to deny motherhood, be it physical and spiritual. A man and a woman who voluntarily do not develop a sense of fatherhood and motherhood are missing something fundamental, important. Think about it, please, ”he said.
“I hope that the institutions will always be ready to help in matters of adoption by taking care seriously, but also by simplifying the process necessary for the dream of many little ones who need a family to come true, and many spouses who wish to give oneself to love. “
A group of circus performers from the Rony Roller Circus in Rome took the stage with loud music and flaming sticks just before the Pope led the pilgrims in the Our Father at the end of the audience.
The 10-minute circus performance included a trombone and saxophone performance of “It’s now or never” by people dressed as clowns.
A young man in a black mesh shirt embellished with pink flames and rhinestones juggled batons while shaking his hips to the sound of techno music, and a woman in a leotard took to the stage lying on her back while juggling with soccer balls between her legs above her.
“I thank the boys and girls of the circus who put on this show. It’s a show that puts us in touch with beauty, and beauty uplifts us,… and beauty is a path to the Lord, ”Pope Francis told the circus performers at the end of the show.
The Pope offered a prayer at the end of his meditation so that “no one feels deprived of a bond of paternal love”, and asked Saint Joseph to intercede for couples who wish to have a child:
you who loved Jesus with fatherly love,
be close to the many children who have no family
and who want a father and a mother.
Support couples who cannot have children,
Help them to discover, through this suffering, a bigger plan.
Make sure no one is missing a home, a bond,
a person to take care of her;
and heal the selfishness of those who are closed to life,
that they can open their hearts to love. Amen.