Thursday, January 6, 2022

Here we go again...

By now many of you will have seen Pope Francis's recent comments about the "selfishness" of childless people, particularly those who choose pets over babies. (And for those of us who have not been able to have the children we wanted, he suggests we... just adopt. Yep -- we got "bingoed" by the Pope!)  

I suppose it's par for the course for the head of an institution that has long tried to dictate its members' reproductive lives and has a vested interest in promoting large families (one way to grow your customer base!).  And it's not the first time he's called out childless people for their "selfishness." 

But it's disappointing nevertheless. I thought he was a little more modern and a little less dogmatic than some of his predecessors;  I guess I was wrong...  (He once famously said "Who am I to judge?" about gay people... obviously his reluctance to pass judgment doesn't extend to us...?!).  

Already Jill Filipovic (who is childfree by choice) has penned a wonderful rebuttal that points out that "Actually, Maybe it's Selfish to Have a Child." A few sample quotes: 

  • "...why are those without children the only ones accused of being self-involved? Why aren’t we talking about how deeply selfish it is to bring a child — or multiple children — into a world that already cannot sustain its 7 billion inhabitants?" 
  • "Why does that reality — that most people enter parenthood for primarily self-interested reasons — trigger such anger?  And could pressing this particular button perhaps encourage a little more consideration for the many people who do not have children by choice or circumstance, and are often told that we’re selfish for not reproducing? Could it maybe push us toward a more thoughtful conversation on reproduction and self-interest?" 
  • "It’s also worth noting here that while parents invest a lot of time into their kids and into organizations that are kid-adjacent, people without kids give a whole lot of their time and money to good works that don’t directly benefit members of their own immediate families. Having a child does not transform someone from selfish to selfless; it just transforms them into a selfish person raising a kid."
  • "To put a finer point on it: it doesn’t actually matter if the choice to have children, or the choice to forgo them, is a selfish one. “Why have kids?” is an interesting question to explore, and it’s unfortunately one that typically merits the most pat of answers. But maybe the reality is that people’s reproductive lives are complicated and the concept of “choice” doesn’t really capture the full picture; that parenting well requires huge amounts of personal sacrifice but perhaps women shouldn’t be expected to sacrifice quite so much; and that treating one’s parental status as somehow reflective of a person’s character or moral worthiness is extremely silly."
(There's also this somewhat satirical piece from The Cut, with this delicious headline: "Childless Man Says Not Having Kids Is ‘Selfish’."  :)  ) 


  1. Um... Pope... read the room. In case you didn't notice, the world is in chaos. This is the statement he chooses to put into the world?

    Pets are about love. Just like kids.

  2. So the pope is selfish as well. He doesn't have children :)

    But yes, I agree with you. All comments like that hurt or if not hurt, bother.

    And I agree with Lollipop Goldstein - the world is in chaos and this is the statement he makes?

  3. The Pleasure Anarchist nails it with this perspective:

    Sample quote:

    "What Pope Francis said yesterday was deeply hurtful and invalidated millions of people’s choices and circumstances. But I would argue that his words did something far worse. They gave us yet another reason to separate and divide ourselves, which threatens to be the real detriment to civilization. To be fair, this separation is nothing new. But when a world leader with an enormous amount of power suggests that millions of people are lacking humanity because they’ve failed to procreate, well it packs quite a punch."

  4. I agree with everybody. Seems an odd time to be divisive. I definitely do not feel lacking in moral compass because my holiday card features cats instead of children. And again, such a simplistic, pat statement that the childless have a responsibility to adopt. Ugh. Loved The Cut's title, ha!

  5. Snap! I wrote (briefly) about this and linked the same (first) article. Grrr. So annoying. The other two (I've just read them) are excellent too. Thanks!

  6. Hypocritical!

    What an archaic view, based on time when humans thought the earth needed more humans. And that it was a good thing to make more of Us to counter more of Them.

    I am interested in the history of religions more than religions themselves, and I continue to be mystified by the fact that people still look to religious leaders for defining right/wrong on such personal matters. An internal compass can be seen as such a dangerous thing.