Pope tells Catholics to have kids, not pets

June 4, 2014 • 5:16 am

When Francis became Pope, it became a touchstone for who really was a skeptic.  The new Pope’s display of humility and (it turns out) false reconciliation toward gays made many people feel warmly toward him—even nonbelievers. But ex-Catholics, or atheists familiar with the Catholic church, wearily echoed the refrain: “Meet the new Pope: same as the old Pope.”

That has turned out to be true. Francis may abjure designer shoes and live in a humble apartment, but he’s still pushing the tired old maladaptive doctrines of his Church.

And now he’s really offended me. The title of the Religion News Service‘s story tells the tale: “Pope Francis tells couples not to substitute dogs and cats for children.

The title is amusing, and I can make light of the Pope’s dissing of cats and d*gs. But there’s a serious purpose behind this, of course, for the Church is bleeding adherents everywhere in the world save South and Central America. It simply needs its female members (aka breeder cattle) to pump out more young Catholics.

But I fulminate. Here’s what the Pope said:

Pope Francis on Monday (June 2) warned married couples against substituting cats and dogs for children — a move that he said leads to the “bitterness of loneliness” in old age.

The pope made his comments as he celebrated daily Mass with 15 married couples in the chapel at the Santa Marta residence where he lives inside the Vatican.

He reminded the couples, whose marriages ranged from 25 to 60 years, of the need for faithfulness, perseverance and fertility in maintaining a Christian marriage.


But he went a step further and strongly criticized those couples who choose not to have children, saying they had been influenced by a culture of “well-being” that says life is better without kids.

“You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be carefree,” the pope said.

“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.“

LOL.  If you have a cat or a d*g, they won’t leave home and ignore you in your old age, as so many children do to their parents. A fuzzy kitteh is one of the best cures for loneliness there is, for it’s always around.  Can you give your children a belly rub, or will they sleep with you and sooth you with their purrs? I don’t think so.

The Pope’s rationale is not loneliness, of course, it’s MAKE MORE CATHOLICS.

The 77-year-old pontiff made his comments after recent figures confirmed a drop in birth rates in the U.S., Italy and elsewhere.

Figures released by Italy’s official statistics agency Istat last week showed the country’s birth rate hit a record low in 2013, with the birth of only 515,000 babies — a drop of 64,000 over the past five years — and a worrying trend as the population ages.

Last year, Time magazine provoked a national debate with a controversial issue entitled “The Childfree Life,” which also showed a dramatic fall in the U.S. birth rate and the role of personal choice.

What a sneaky old so-and-so he is! Is Francis fooling anyone with his talk about the need to have kids to avoid being lonely and bitter in their old age? If he is, then Catholics are even more gullible than I thought.

h/t: Barry

135 thoughts on “Pope tells Catholics to have kids, not pets

  1. The world does not need more people. But the Catholic Church clearly does need more ickle Catholics-to-be.

    1. Indeed, the world has about an order of magnitude more humans than is wise. We need to reduce populations at a rate of at least 5% annually for the next several decades if we want to reduce chances of a cataclysmic population collapse through pollution and resource exhaustion.

      Birth control should be universal and free, from condom dispensers at every newsstand and mailbox to no-questions-asked (outside of medically necessary ones) on-demand outpatient surgical sterilization for anybody who walks into any clinic with the personnel and equipment to perform the procedure safely. And everything between, including IUDs and patches and pills and the rest — all free of charge, anonymous, no restrictions save for medical due diligence.



      1. “Indeed, the world has about an order of magnitude more humans than is wise. We need to reduce populations at a rate of at least 5% annually for the next several decades if we want to reduce chances of a cataclysmic population collapse through pollution and resource exhaustion.”

        Where are you getting your figures from? Last I looked into the matter, it was ambiguous whether we’d yet surpassed a safe global capacity or not, though we *are* increasing at a worrying rate.

        1. Before there were a billion people on the planet — early 19th century — pollution and resource exhaustion weren’t really significant on a global scale. Today, both represent the biggest crises we as a civilization face.

          Per capita, we consume and pollute far more today than we did when there were a mere billion humans.

          Therefore, if we wish to maintain our current lifestyles, which are intricately tied to both consumption and pollution (and there are solid reasons based in thermodynamics why that should be the case), we need fewer people than at the last point in history when consumption and pollution weren’t global crises.

          My guess is that half a billion is likely plenty humans, and an hundred million would likely be ideal.

          But, of course, just getting to half a billion would mean over a 90% reduction in population, with only one in ten people remaining.

          We could do it by limiting birth rates through universal free and easy no-questions asked birth control. If we only got the population decline down to roughly the 2.5% historical growth rate, it’d take as long to get below a billion as it’s taken to get above it: a couple centuries, give or take. We don’t have that long. If we could get the decline to 10%, we’d cut the population in half every seven years, and in about half a century we’d be below a billion. Even that’s probably too slow, but a 10% annual population reduction is unrealistic.

          So, in short, we’re fucked because there’s too much fucking fucking….


      2. …on-demand outpatient surgical sterilization for anybody who walks into any clinic with the personnel and equipment to perform the procedure safely.

        If they’ve got all that, what do they the clinic for?

        1. The clinic would be for the surgical forms of sterilization — people who’d prefer a snip to a rubber. But all forms should be freely available for all people to freely choose.


          1. Reminds me years ago of a protestor’s sign my aunt told me about. It read, “keep your rosaries off my ovaries”. I thought that was very clever and I never forgot it (I think she told me about it 20 years ago)

    1. I’m sure the Pope would enjoy Ronald Firbank’s wonderful story Concerning the Eccentricities of Cardinal Pirelli . . .
      ‘Huddled up in a cope of gold wrought silk he peered around. Society had rallied in force. A christening — and not a child’s.
      Rarely had he witnessed, before the font, so many brilliant people. Were it an heir to the DunEden acres (instead of what it was) the ceremony could have hardly drawn together a more distinguished throng. . . Head archly bent, her fine arms divined through darkling laces, the Duquesa stood, clasping closely a week-old police-dog in the ripple of her gown.
      “Mother’s pet!” she cooed, as the imperious creature passed his tongue across the splendid uncertainty of her chin.
      Monsignor Silex’s large, livid face grew grim.
      What,— disquieting doubt,— if it were her Grace’s offspring after all? Praise heaven, he was ignorant enough regarding the schemes of nature, but in an old lutrin once he had read of a young woman engendering a missel-thrush through the channel of her nose. It had created a good deal of scandal to be sure at the time: the Holy Inquisition, indeed, had condemned the impudent baggage, in consequence, to the stake. . . But, supported by the Prior of the Cartuja, the Cardinal had arisen for the act of Immersion.
      Of unusual elegance, and with the remains, moreover, of perfect looks, he was as wooed and run after by the ladies as any matador.
      “And thus being cleansed and purified, I do call thee ‘Crack’!” he addressed the Duquesa’s captive burden.
      Tail sheathed with legs “in master’s drawers,” ears cocked, tongue pendent….


  2. Mr. Bergoglio has played a dubious role during the 1976-1983 military regime in his home land and even thereafter. So when I learned that Bergoglio was elected head of the rcc, I realized we hadn’t to expect anything good from him.

  3. I’m sick of every newspaper and TV article touching on declining birth rates (yay!) calling it a ‘worrying trend’ and whining about the aging population. You’d think that their absolute ideal world is one where everybody breeds flat out in their teens and dies in their twenties. There’s only one alternative to aging.

    1. In the UK for the right-wing papers (i.e. most of them)it’s a favourite dog whistle. Translation = White people – have more kids or we’ll be taken over by the Muslamics and/or people with brown skin.

  4. If he wants more Catholics, why doesn’t he remove the celibacy requirement for priests?

    1. My first thought as well. As if I want to take life and fertility advice from a guy who has (allegedly) never had sex or a secure relationship before. Whatevs Pope keep on stogmatizing women for making their own choices I’m sure that will work out well.

      1. Lol I wrote “sexual relationship” not “secure”. That is so not like me. Maybe I’m not cynical in my freudian slip way.

    2. For the same reason kidney cells or livers don’t reproduce: their job is to support the body that does the actual reproducing. In this case, they’re too busy making converts, running the lives of the existing converts, and protecting the religion’s PR to set time aside for reproducing, so they outsource it.

      “Holy reasons of spiritual duty”, as they might put it.

  5. 15 married couples … whose marriages ranged from 25 to 60 years

    Sounds ike the ideal audience for this particular message.

  6. Whenever I hear screaming children in a store (all too common) I turn to the nearest innocent bystander and say “That’s why I have dogs.” They usually pretend to be amused.

    [Sorry for the d*g reference.]

              1. Since this was bugging me, I did the research.
                ‘Gladly, the cross-eyed bear’ is a mondegreen from the hymn “Gladly the cross I’d bear”.


              2. Well allllllrighty then!

                In my defense I’ll just note that I’d just pulled an all-nighter nursing a sick d*g. I wasn’t all bright-tailed and bushy-eyed by any means.

                (She won’t eat, and without that she doesn’t have a chance of recovering from the infection we’re pretty sure she has. I have to force her mouth open and squirt this catfood-like goo down her throat with a huge syringe. You know, sort of like at Gitmo. She’s not happy about it, but she seems to be “getting better”.)

  7. He could start by having some of his own, ask those priests and nuns and maybe just maybe they would increase the catholic population if they are lucky

  8. For decades I’ve maintained that the Vatican views Latin America as their private Catholic Baby Factory.

    It’s not something that goes over well at a cocktail party.

    At least, not yet.

  9. Many centuries ago, Mad Magazine published the Mad Magazine Religion Primer.

    In it, there was a section on “The Catholics”. Among other things, it said, “These are the Catholics. They believe in God. They believe in the Holy Trinity. They believe in miracles.

    “This is the Pope. He counsels on love, even though he’s never been in love. He counsels on marriage, even though he’s never been married. He counsels on sex, even though he’s never had sex.

    “No wonder the Catholics believe in miracles.”


    1. Old joke.

      A Catholic priest and a rabbi are on a long train journey and begin talking. After a while the conversation turns to the religious things they’re not allowed. The priest asks the rabbi if he has ever eaten bacon. The rabbi says that he did, just the once. Then the rabbi asks the priest if the priest has ever has sex with a woman. The priest blushes and says, yes, he has, just the once. “Better than bacon, isn’t it? says the rabbi.

  10. Remember, there are only four Church approved methods of population control.
    War, Famine, Pestilence and Disease.

    1. Yeah, they had to give up on the fifth method, executing people who disagree with them. L

      1. Oh sure they tortured people and burned them alive but they did it out of Looovve
        A priest explained it to me when I was a kid. By demonstrating to the victim impenitent what he could expect from god’s mercy he would love god at the last minute and be saved.

        1. A good illustration of that disgusting rationalization.

          “On the 400th anniversary of Bruno’s death, in 2000, Cardinal Angelo Sodano declared Bruno’s death to be a “sad episode” but, despite his regret, he defended Bruno’s prosecutors, maintaining that the Inquisitors “had the desire to serve freedom and promote the common good and did everything possible to save his life.
          [Seife, Charles (March 1, 2000). “Vatican Regrets Burning Cosmologist”. Science Now. Retrieved June 24, 2012.]

          According to Cardinal Sodano of the modern, current day RCC, those Inquisitors just loved Bruno so much they pulled out all the stops trying to save him but, alas, he was too far gone.

          1. These are the same Inquisitors, mind, that had him killed for the “heinous” crimes of not believing the doctrines of Catholicism (Christ, Mary, Trinity, etc.), for putting forwards cosmological speculations, for criticizing priests and ministers, and basically for doing what most people do these days: holding harmless opinions. To blame the victim in this instance is to essentially say people should be killed for having different opinions.

            Whether it’s cynical self-justification or just plain insanity, this institution’s prominence and influence is way out of proportion to its actual credibility. When will people be ashamed to identify themselves as Catholics, instead of atheists and irreligious people being shamed for not believing such things at all?

  11. Ah, yes, Catholic clergy. Just the people from whom you’d want to take advice on family matters. I’ll ask my mother about this tonight when I see her. She was terrified of her parish priest – and that’s why I was born 9 and a half months after my parents were married!

  12. “Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.“

    Completely ignoring children who are killed by childhood cancers, car accidents, etc. Things preventable by an omnipotent god, but pretty much out of our control.

    And ignoring the Biblical advice to stone children to death who disrespect their parents. I wonder if the Pope considers that good or bad parenting advice.

    It’s probably just a numbers game.

    1. Not to mention: let’s create entire people with entire lives for the purpose of my (maybe) not being lonely later.

      1. Yes it is selfish not to have kids because you need to have them for the selfish reason of using then as caregivers later. Also organ donors LOL!

        I stopped hanging out with a friend of mine when her husband finally told me that I was selfish for not having kids. I wasn’t married or in a relationship and was in my early to mid 20s at the time when he said this. He had often told me how I didn’t need an education because he didn’t have one and he made out fine and of course my degrees were stupid. I put up with it because he was my friend’s husband but that selfish remark was the last straw.

        1. A young man once told me I was useless because I did not have any kids (I was in my early thirties at the time). I said, ‘Why would I run the chance of giving birth to someone like you? 🙂

  13. At the ripe old age of 74 I wouldn’t trade my lovely wife and Summer-the-little-stripey-cat for anything the lonely and embittered old celibate in a dress may have. Not even if he threw in a pair of red Gucci maryjanes….

    As a long ago (six decades) recovered catholic I say to all those out there still wetting their knickers about the new pope – Stop it! Just stop it!

  14. “You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be carefree,” the pope said.

    What an insult. Most of the childless couples I know are childless because they had many long, serious talks together about whether to have kids or not. Whether they were ready and whether they wanted their life to go in that direction. It’s a mature, thoughtful choice for them. For many, the answer is not all that clear and making light of their choice or downplaying its significance just brings pain. Saying childless couples just want to party is right up there in accuracy with saying atheists just don’t want to obey God.

    1. I HATE the accusation couples with kids throw around to couples without kids “it’s selfish”. That’s total bull, unless you’re adopting (especially a bit older) foster kids, it’s only an act of selfishness to have children of your own in this world of over 7 billion people. Note, I don’t begrudge people having children (and I enjoy being an uncle), just don’t trot out the bs about not having kids being “selfish”.

      1. Even if it were “being selfish”, it’s better that they are selfish without kids, than selfish with kids. The kids will suffer as much or more, so what’s the point.

      2. The “selfish” slur is just nonsensical on its face: the idea is you aren’t sharing what you have with your children…but if you’re childless, you don’t have any children! If it’s your potential children that you’re being selfish to, then the couple who stops at two is being selfish to potential number three and so on, until the only ones who aren’t selfish are baby factories like the Duggars.

  15. I’ll think hard and long on this next time I bring my wonderful dog for her weekly therapy visits to a nursing home, particularly when visiting the Alzheimer’s ward. The joy she brings to these people in their solitude is beautiful. And interestingly, all the Alzheimer’s patients, even if they’ve forgotten their spouses, they always remember their first dog (if applicable), I know because I hear about their first dog every time 🙂

  16. So, a bitter old man who has no kids says that having no kids makes you into a bitter old man…correlation or causation, mr Pope?

  17. My kids are out of the house and I have Kink the Cat.

    Everyday is par-TAY, Woo Hoo!

    If that’s solitude and the bitterness of loneliness then set me up with another round, barkeep!

  18. Italy, with a population density half again as large China’s, has a falling birth rate … and that’s a bad thing?

  19. Childlessness results in a lonely, bitter end to life. Have children, and many of them, or this will be your sad fate.

    Celibate Childless 77 Year Old (I am lonely and bitter) Pope Marriage Counselor Supreme, Forbidden by Rules to Ever Marry or Father Children [ask me no questions about whether I have/had sexual intercourse, and I will tell you no lies; same goes for whether I’ve ever fathered a child]

    1. Exactly. Bitter old lonely celibate unmarried childless men. But, this fact does make it easier to understand the wellspring of Catholic theology.

  20. Can you give your children a belly rub[…]?

    True, but you can’t give most cats belly rubs either, unless you have lightning quick reflexes and/or a high pain tolerance. It’s worth trying, though.

    1. Depends on the cat and the person.

      Baihu usually starts the workday napping on my left arm. He uses my forearm for a pillow as I give him a belly rub. Leaves me to type right-handed for at least an hour hour or two….


    2. Both my cats love belly rubs and like Ben, one of them will often go to sleep curled around my arm leaving me to type one handed.

    3. Actually, after spending all of my life with cats – and always loving them – I came to like certain things, like chin scratches and belly rubs. My mother used to joke that I had been a cat in a former life (I don’t believe in that, myself). Weird, I’m sure.

  21. At this point, I’m wondering what fantasy land most devoted Catholics live in to think this guy has anything worthwhile to say, and whether someone’s slipping stuff into their drinks. Why give so much of your time, money, and personal identity to such ignorant and moralistic bigotry? Are we all so badly muddled that it seems ordinary for normal folk to associate with someone who announces these unsubstantiated insults on a regular basis, yet calls himself an authority on morals? Should I be more cynical in my outlook of humanity’s ability to think rationally?

  22. I was incensed by the Pope’s failure to consider that the world is already overpopulated with people and that a growing population of our species means an increasing rate of extinction for other species.

    We speak of rodent or insect infestations; perhaps the world is already infested with people. Some may think me misanthropic as I attempt to put things in perspective but they would be in mistaken. I’m quite fond of some people with certain inevitable exceptions. For the sake of the Earth, the Pope should enjoin couples to reproduce less.

    1. Considering Africa has one of the highest population growth rates of any continent, a good thing to do would be to give African citizens some education, access to contraceptives, and family planning incentives. But guess which institution impedes that issue over there?

      1. Yes I tend to agree. There’s no real need for heavy-handed population controls as long as you give women access to education, the job market, and contraception. IOW, control over their own lives and livelihoods. If the west is any indication, those things tend to bring the birth rate down to replacement levels or slightly lower on their own, without any need for any formal policy regarding population growth.

  23. So his only argument in favor of having children is a negative one – a threat about potential loneliness in old age (assuming you get there)? He can’t come up with a single positive thing to say about kids?


    I’m childless by choice AND a crazy cat lady, and even I can come up with nicer things to say about children than that.

    What a bitter, fearful, narrow-minded old coot.

      1. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be – sometimes he just won’t shut up. I hate being interrupted when I’m reading.

    1. Traditionally in catholicism children are of even lower status than women. Just above the livestock. Just look how the RCC treats them at their schools, laundries, orphanages, etc. They are a resource to be used.

      Of course that changes at a certain age level for male children. At least for some of them.

    2. For a couple of years, both of my parents spent some time in nursing homes / rehabilitation facilities for various health conditions.

      I visited each every day, even though when they’re out of such a facility, I would see them once or twice a week.

      Point is, these places have a lot of permanent residences, not just rehab patients. And I could instantly see which of these old people had been warehoused by their families. And that was a large majority of them.

      Very few even had weekly visitors — which would be for an hour or less. Occasionally, one of the residents would be signed out by a family member to be taken out for a meal or something. That was even-more rare.

      The rest of the residents and for the rest of the time–they had each other and the staff. So, for 167 out of 168 hours in a week, they were LONELY!

      So, fuck the “pope” and his fantasy that having children protects you from old-age loneliness. In fact, I think it’s quite possible that those old folks with children feel more abandoned and worthless than the childless ones, who don’t expect visitations.

      I’d give every one of them a cat, if I could. (One facility did have staffers’ dogs in the sun room).

      1. My parent who died in just such a facility was tended by her children in her own home until her health issues required 24 hour nursing attention beyond our capacity to provide. During my visits over the subsequent 8 months until her death I observed exactly what you describe.

        I would point out that a one hour visit is about the max either the resident or guests is able to tolerate. It is also a fact that for the final year she still resided at her home,there were many days she received more than an hour of personal attention to administer feeding & hygiene — but on 95% of those days far less than an hour of attention of a purely social nature. By mutual consent of all parties.

        An attendent I queried at the nursing facility did confirm that the number of visitor’s mom received was far disproportionately higher than the rest of the facility population, many of whom had rare instances of caller’s who actually knew them.

        For most of the history of humans, and still across much of the planet, a high childbirth rate fills the dual purpose of a) overcoming pre-adulthood death rates, and b) of providing social security for parents who live long enough to require survival assistance as elderly folks.

  24. saying they had been influenced by a culture of “well-being” that says life is better without kids

    Hm. Unless Pope Francis has something he’s not telling us about, isn’t this exactly the choice he made himself?

    1. Yes, but his choices are inherently better than others’ profane secular choices, you see, because theology.

      Such a religious leader is just a holier-than-thou snob with a different yardstick. As much as he trumpets the Christian life over secular alternatives, the only difference seems to be that their “well-being” concerns are post-mortem, so to speak.

  25. Sorry, New Pope, but in the US now, the fact is that hardly anyone can afford to have a large family, or even any. If you want to give your kids health care and education (or even things like, you know, food), you’d better not have many. And even with few, it’s only possible if both parents have well-paying jobs that take 60+ hours a week, so they don’t have time to indoctrinate Catholicism.

    Why don’t you speak to the 1% about that? I’m sure they’d be happy to cut down income inequality to breed more Catholics for you.

  26. If you follow that logic then it means that all Catholic priests should get married and have children so that they don’t end up lonely and bitter in old age.

  27. this once again reminds us that the catholic church is just an ancient death and fertility cult in very fancy dress.

  28. Does anybody else find it ironic that a lonely celibate is counseling married couples on the necessity of having kids to avoid loneliness.

  29. The world is a sorry place to raise children. One reason – Catholicism and religion in general.

    P.S. Mr. Pope – millions and millions of children already die every year. We need more living in disease and poverty?

  30. Just another thing to feel guilty about brought to you by an institution that has too many years of experience at the task.


  32. As many have pointed out, RCC clergy instructing people on such matters is hilariously ridiculous. And yet people have been swallowing this shit for eons.

    Ironically I am the result of a conflict between RCC mandates and modern medical advice. My mother was advised by her doctor to use birth control because she and my father had incompatible Rh factors. After a time her RCC father convinced her to discontinue the birth control. A troubled pregnancy was the result. I was born in pretty sorry shape and required massive blood transfusions on a regular basis for weeks. No lasting problems though. My mother moved away from the RCC after that.

  33. I take it it’s OK for Il Papa and his priests to remain childless and lonely, but not for the rest of us.
    I”ll stick with my two very young cats and my very old dog, thanks Frankie.

  34. ““Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness.“”

    So don’t have kids because you love them, have them to make sure you have servants when you get old. Yep, just what I expect from someone who wants to force people to have children. And just how does this apply to someone who has chosen to have no children, like oh, the Pope? Poor bitter old man.

  35. “…substituting cats and dogs for children — a move that he said leads to the “bitterness of loneliness” in old age.”

    You know what can really lead to bitter loneliness? Being a judgmental, game-playing, ultra-conservative religiocrat jackass who makes her miraculously well-adjusted children want to stay away.

  36. Loneliness and bitterness in old age? Hmm, could it be the 77-year old celibate man is genetalizing from his own experience?

      1. I thought it was just another word that I had forgotten due to my lonely, bitter old life.
        Heh heh.

  37. Seriously, The Pope had to tell married Catholics this? If they don’t know this they surely don’t know God!

  38. Just started officially following this blog. Looks like my wordpress login is not the name I thought I had set up, and trying to figure out the byzantine wordpress help is making my brain implode.
    Anyway, my first comment was supposed to be about Hili and company, but this post pushed so many of my buttons that I need to start here. My husband and I lost 7 babies in less than a decade, suffered from infertility (as well as just bad luck – 5 of those babies were conceived naturally), and are now involuntarily childless. In a culture obsessed with children, this is a difficult place to live. (My impression of the readers of this blog is that they are informed and sensitive enough to not ask why we didn’t “just adopt.”) We strive every day to find solace and distraction (hence our devotion to The Hili Dialogues). But when 1/6 of all childbearing-age couples face infertility (and even more lose babies in pregnancy and infancy), it’s infuriating to read the pope’s ignorant take on this. It isn’t always the couple’s “choice,” Frankie – and if it is, it’s none of your business. One of the many reasons why I am no longer a Catholic or a Christian is that NO denomination has any ministry to support people with experiences like ours. Save the unborn – but completely ignore those who are grieving their empty arms. We aren’t even on their radar. Freakin’ hypocrites.

    1. I toyed out a bunch of stuff in my phone but I think lost it.

      People are very strange and I think women to a lot of harm to each other. Why I don’t have children is no one’s business and their guesses are often wring because they usually attribute jerk like reasons for it and they seem to think it is ok to act insensitively concerning it.

      It doesn’t help that our society holds motherhood in high esteem. If a female does not become a mother, others, especially other females, decide something is wrong with her. These are a couple if examples where this attitude was thrust upon me when I was in my thirties. Now that I’m in my forties, people leave me alone.

      A female coworker told me that she thought my friend leaving me with her baby was strange because she thought I “hated children” (I was playing with my friend’s baby when she came to visit all of us during her mat leave). She told me this because she knew I didn’t have children. I think it was her way if trying to hurt my feelings. It didn’t work. I just thought she was a jerk for trying to hurt someone’s feelings on purpose. Another female friend of mine, who also has no children, tells of women similarity acting shocked if they see her with children since she is childless and must therefore hate them. If they knew I was an atheist maybe they’d think I’d eat the baby!

      Another example is of a woman I was friends with who told me that her boss didn’t have kids. “What kind of woman wouldn’t have kids”. She implied she was a sociopath. I pointed out that i didn’t have kids to which she said nothing.

      Men have never said any if these things to me. It seems to be a thing women do to each other. My friend recommended a book called “nobody’s mother” about childless women, but I didn’t identify with any of the women because the main theme was these women were mothers to students or they were aunts etc. I’m none of those things.

      1. That is absolutely bizarre.

        I’m a single, childless, 40-something guy, and I don’t think it even occurs to anybody to consider whether I have kids or if I’m weird because I don’t.

        I don’t think it’d occur to me personally to think that a childless woman of any age or circumstance is unusual or defective or whatever, but I fully acknowledge that I may well be weird like that. I don’t suppose I’m surprised that that sort of thing is common…but it doesn’t make sense.

        And it makes even less sense that there should be a double standard. How could it be scandalous for a woman to be childless but unremarkable for a man to be childless? The math just doesn’t work out. I mean, is there a silent assumption I’m unaware of that people just think that I’ve fathered kids all over the place but never admitted to it? Do people really think that I’m weird for not having kids and I’ve just never picked up on it? How, exactly, is this supposed to work?


        1. they may think that you will have kids later but honestly, I think there is a tacit assumption that women all have a drive to have kids and if they don’t have them then something is wrong with them as a women. Something must be broken inside her.

      2. Diana, there has always been a double standard with all things to do with gender, especially having children. I can understand women-people saying thoughtless things that can be hurtful, as they haven’t thought it through. Australia has had some hateful male politicians who said nasty things about our previous atheist, childless Prime Minister.

        When people say such things, I take into consideration their education level. Now the male politicians are educated and malicious, however some of those women you mentioned, may not have had the opportunity to think it through.

        I’m now a retired professional, happily childless (with husband and obligatory cat), and over the decades my experience has been that people have asked genuine questions about my decision not to have children. So I haven’t had any of the nastiness. I’m careful in a raging patriarchy for blaming women for their thoughtless comments. We had consciousness raising to help us understand the mire and web that we were in.

        1. Sadly, all these women were well educated professionals. I don’t really see a class difference when it comes to this issue as it is pervasive throughout culture.

          1. Diana, Ben, & Dawn,
            One would think that by now a women’s value and identity would not be totally tied to her fecundity. But the double-standard seems worse than ever. (I snorted grimly, Diana, when you said that your otherwise rational colleagues would fear atheism + childlessness = eating babies.)
            Last summer, when writer Maeve Binchy died, Amanda Craig (UK journalist and Professional Mommy)wrote an obituary in The Telegraph suggesting that Binchy would have been a better writer if she’d had children. WHOA! Big global outcry, both in the comments to the obit, op-ed pieces, and individual blogs. Craig was universally ripped a new one in pretty much every response. Type “maeve binchy childless obituary” into a search engine if you want to see. Really horrible attitude (particularly as Craig whined afterwards about how misunderstood she was). Craig’s insult to Binchy (and to all childless women) was redeemed somewhat by the verbal tar-and-feather response. But, dang, nearly a year later, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

            1. I remember when, and I feel bad that I forget the details, but a female scientist died. She was of advanced age. There was a lot made about her being a mother and wife. When Carolyn Porco pointed this out on twitter, saying that she isn’t any of that and implying that they’d have nothing to say about her, people jumped all over her. They told her she was being a jerk about this lady. They totally missed the point. I was so mad! I stood up for Carokyn Porco because I think she’s the bees knees! I told her that all women should be like her!

          2. That’s interesting Diana as you are in Canada, which is much less religious than the US, and I would have considered less likely to tie women to childbirth. As you know, Australia is fairly secular (we are fighting on two of our flanks at the moment). So we have had different personal experiences. In places I’ve worked, most people at not church attenders and atheism is more the norm (although people use the term ‘nonbeliever’). Having a child was a point of discussion, however, there was no expectation. let alone nastiness. Interesting – thanks for your view.

            1. I think in this instance, this linking women with childbirth is something that is more linked to old-timey patriarchy which religion tends to get muddled into as well. I have hope that women of gen-y will experience this less as where I work, I work with a lot of gen-y folks AND we have students come in as interns – a lot of females! I have a lot of hope for these women and I love working with them!

  39. Anymore than two children is selfish, theist or not. Two at least guarantees no growth and very likely promotes modest population decrease for generations to come as:

    1. not all children will make it to child bearing years.
    2. not all children will elect (as adults) to have children (at least not their own)

    1. I think the replacement rate is less than two due to overlapping, especially as people die older.

    2. This is a pretty arbitrary statement. Yes, no one having more than 2 children would guarantee the population doesn’t grow. It would also guarantee it would dramatically shrink to the point where either every living person on Earth must have their allotted 2 children, or humans would die off. For obvious reasons, there are segments of the population who will never have children, so to stabilize population growth, some percentage of people will have to have more than 2 kids.

      1. The next supervulcano eruption or big meteorite will kill billions. The only way to avoid massive suffering is to shrink humanity to a few thousands that can be put in bunkers until conditions get better.

        1. Of course not, and I didn’t imply that we should. The Pope or anyone else should not be telling people they must breed. However, if we do a rough back of the envelope calculation based on the numbers, people who do make the choice to have 3 children would not rapidly overpopulated the planet. Doing a quick Google search, I found that 47% of women between 15 and 44 (in the US) had no children. Let’s say that means roughly 60% do have kids sometime in their life. Even if all 60% of these women had three kids, the population would decline eventually as long as lifespans don’t permanently rise towards infinity. This is what I meant by saying it’s a rather arbitrary statement to say no one should ever have 3 kids, assuming they can afford to do so and want to do so.

          1. I was thinking of the world population, and that the US is now the 2nd largest polluter. We are on different wavelengths here. I understand what you are saying, but it passes the point.

            1. I don’t think we are on different wavelengths. I absolutely agree with you. I have kids, I would say a decent majority of my friends and coworkers don’t. Some want them eventually, some don’t.

              For the ones who do not, I can’t support them enough in that decision. As you said, there’s more than enough people already and we need to be concerned far more with overpopulation then under-population. In regions of the world that are torn apart by poverty and civil unrest, I wouldn’t recommend anyone living there have kids and these are precisely the regions the Pope and the Church are having way too much success with their breeding campaign.

              My original response to Kevin was simply meant to say that if no one on Earth had more than 3 kids, it’s pretty much a guarantee that the population would start decreasing based on the simple math of what percentage of the population never has any.

              I agree with you about America needing to do something about pollution too. We have 5% of the world’s people yet produces 20% of the pollution. I live in New York, take mass transit every day, and accept it as a fact that a large percentage of my own country finds the citizens here anti-American, rude, elitist, too liberal, and on and on. But what would you except when we have people at major political events gathering around shouting, “Drill, baby, drill!” The planet is their personal landfill and Jebus is gonna come back and fix it, just wait.

  40. The Pope and his priests chose a career in the church over having children. Many adults also chose to pursue a career over having children. Absolutely nothing wrong with that choice, but I would ask Catholics to question their assumption that the Pope and priest job titles are somehow more important or valuable than any other job. They are not.

  41. Church is bleeding adherents everywhere in the world save South and Central America.

    -Not everywhere. There’s always Poland and Sub-Saharan Africa.

  42. It has always confused me that people so easily took the words of the new Pope without question. Forgetting that he is still a part of the heirarchy that enforces ancient and delusional beliefs.
    I will believe that the Catholic Church is becoming more progressive when there is a female Pope.
    The Pope may change but the Catholic Church does not.
    I think back to Mary Poppins and the pie crust promise: easily made, easily broken.
    Until what the Pope says filters down through the Church, nothing will change. His personal statements and actions mean nothing in the big scheme of things.
    No surprise here, as he is the Pope of the Catholic Church.
    I think the world media was a little gullible in their belief that the Catholic Church would change for the better.

  43. This reminded me of the speech South African president Jacob Zuma gave about two years ago. He said owning dogs was unAfrican and blacks shouldn’t try copy whites by having pets. A lot of people made fun of that.

  44. A “worrying trend”?

    I don’t think so. In fact, just the opposite, I’d say. A “happy trend”.

    Out of all of the exhortations in the “bible”, the only one humans have been able to consistently follow is “be fruitful and multiply”.

    You would think that any god worth his salt would look around and come back to say, “enough multiplying already!”

    1. ‘Be fruitful and multiply’
      So if god told you to cut the grass would you push the mower around forever?
      You’d think that god would give you the sense to know when the job is done but for some reason he gives sense to the people who don’t believe in him.

    2. For being omniscient, Yahweh was remarkably inept at math as well as identifying useful scopes for commands. Clearly, there was a failure to think things through.

      Consider this: “To prognosticators of artificial intelligence, Moore’s Law is a glorious herald of exponential growth. But exponentials have a drearier side as well. The human population recently passed six billion and is doubling about once every forty years. At this exponential rate, if an average person weighs seventy kilograms, then by the year 3750 the entire Earth will be composed of human flesh.”


      Perhaps, Yahweh should’ve considered a sine wave function for future population growth…

  45. What right does anyone, religious figurehead or otherwise, have to tell people they must children they can’t afford and/or don’t want? US taxpayers are really tired of subsidizing children born to those who can’t afford them.

  46. I could write this story for The Onion.

    With the world population racing towards 8 billion, celibate Catholic leader lectures couples on the need for fertility. 77-year old Francis warns that if you don’t have children you might grow old bitter and lonely, just wait and see, even if you think you are happy now with your works travels, and vacation houses, and lovable pets. Francis, who is a Jesuit, has vowed himself to a life of nominal poverty. As far as we know he doesn’t have pets. He also has a vote of celibacy, but he explained that Jesus makes the Church fertile metaphorically so it’s okay. According to Catholic tradition he cannot be wrong.

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