The pope, who is named after the patron saint of animals, also said choosing dogs and cats over children "takes away our humanity."
Don’t have pets over children – that was the message Pope Francis had for the people during a general address to the audience at the Vatican on Wednesday.
“Today … we see a form of selfishness,” he said, translated by BBC News. “We see that some people do not want to have a child. Sometimes they have one, and that’s it, but they have dogs and cats that take the place of children.”
Pope Francis said having fur babies in the place of actual babies “is a denial of fatherhood and motherhood and … takes away our humanity.”
Those who can’t conceive, the pope said, can look toward adoption.
The address follows another one he made last month in front of St. Peter’s Basilica, in which he expressed concern over Italy’s plunging birthrate, Reuters reported.
The speech, however, faced immediate backlash, especially by those who pointed out on social media that the pope, himself, has made a deliberate choice not to have children.
Others disagreed with his sentiment of having children out of obligation.
Pope Francis, who is named after the patron saint of animals Francis of Assisi, also seemed to be disregarding his namesake, according to The New York Times.