- Rome, Italy -
Oh boy, I am so furious that for the first time, my usual personal opinion that I add to the end of each article is going to be longer than the story itself!
On Friday, May 12, 2023, Pope Francis was at St. Peter’s Square in Rome to attend the third edition of Stati Generali della Natalità (a conference discussing Italy’s declining birth rate). The Italian Prime Minister, Georgia Meloni, was also present at the conference.
At one point during his speech, the pope recounted two episodes that he described as “photographs”. The first anecdote he mentioned happened in Saint Peter’s Square where his secretary walked toward a woman who was pushing a stroller and was surprised to see a puppy inside of it instead of a child. The second happened during a regular papal audience on a Wednesday two weeks before the conference. A woman, approximately in her fifties, approached him holding a bag asking him to bless her baby. The pope said that the woman opened the bag to reveal a puppy. He then admitted to losing his temper, impatiently rebuking her by saying; “Many children are dying of hunger and you bring me a dog?” The pontiff proudly relayed the episode while laughing as if he was describing a scene from a funny movie!
The pope explained that, given the cost of living and inadequate childcare, some couples are opting to have cats and dogs rather than children. He accused those who do not have children of “selfishness” and went on to say that, since for many Italians starting a family is a monumental effort, he fears that the two episodes he described could become “the habit of the future”.
I cannot begin to tell you how that triggered animal rescue organizations to react!
This is not the first time that Pope Francis has harped on this issue, having previously slammed what he described as “selfish, egotistical” people who chose to not have children. As reported by Perizona, on International Dog Day in 2022 (August 26) he made similar remarks.
As reported by CNN earlier that year, on January 5, during one of his regular Wednesday papal audiences, whilst praising Saint Joseph’s decision to bring up Jesus as “among the highest forms of love”, he turned his focus to couples that chose to have animals instead of children, saying: “We see that people do not want to have children, or just one and no more. 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 … Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children.” He then added: “Yes, it’s funny, I understand, but it is the reality. And this denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us, it takes away our humanity. And in this way civilization becomes aged and without humanity, because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood. And our homeland suffers, as it does not have children.”
First of all, I want to say that growing up in Italy, I have seen a lot of priests blessing cars, houses, engagement rings and so on. I remember as a little girl, my own mother asked a priest from our local church to come to the house to bless it. So, I truly do not understand why the pope refused to bless a LIFE! For that, I am deeply disappointed! Secondly, I would expect the pope to profess love for all beings. I strongly believe that he has the responsibility to send a clear message that all humans should love, respect, and appreciate all of God’s creations and that includes animals. I may be mistaken, but I have never heard the pope dedicate a prayer to innocent animal victims of natural disasters or abuse etc. It appears as though he professes selective love! I would expect the pope to support messages that unite all living beings without stressing the needs of some over others! It’s not just children who die of hunger, a lot of innocent animals out there are experiencing the EXACT same tragedy! Both humans and animals suffer and there should not be prioritization of the needs of humans over animals!
Moreover, on April 6, 2023, Pope Francis visited the chapel of the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center where, during a Mass of the Lord’s Supper, he washed and kissed the feet of twelve young criminals. According to Catholic News Agency, “During his time as pope — and as a bishop before that — Francis has made it a regular tradition to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass with the imprisoned.” Francis, however, has never visited an animal rescue center to recognize, praise, and appreciate the enormous sacrifices volunteers endure in order to save lives! Many of us know all too well that the lives of animals are constantly ignored and underestimated by the authorities and institutions, despite the fact that the law and regulations require them to take charge!
Lastly, after he was elected pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi. Well, here’s a major contradiction: St. Francis of Assisi is associated with patronage of animals and the environment. It became customary for churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of 4 October. It’s not a coincidence that the Voice For Us Facebook page was created and launched on October 4, 2018, to honor St. Francis.
A famous Italian journalist, Selvaggia Lucarelli, made an important observation in her recent Instagram story regarding the pope’s refusal to bless the puppy. She said: “What should a 50-year-old woman do, if perhaps she has a dog and an older child? Going around with your 25-year-old son in the stroller, so the pope is reassured and knows that she has given birth?” Selvaggia then went on to indirectly ask: “Why the f*ck doesn’t he tolerate animals?”
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