Photo of animal welfare advocate, Cheri Shankar, by Susan Weingartner for the LA Times.
This opinion piece in a recent Los Angeles Times urges Pope Francis to get with it and consider household pets a "blessing", rather than "urging married couples not to substitute raising pets for children." He claimed that couples without children risk growing old in solitude 'with the bitterness of lonliness' Apparently, the good Pontiff made these comments at a small Mass in a Vatican chapel before 15 married couples.
The author of this opinion piece, Carla Hall, begs to differ, and eloquently points out that "having children is no slam-dunk hedge against loneliness and bitterness in old age." Hall also pointedly suggests that Pope Francis "meditate on his namesake, Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals, who believed they were as much God's creatures as humans..." And Cheri Shankar, an animal welfare advocate quoted in the article bluntly states: "Clearly the pope has never had a pet or he would know the unconditional love that our animals have for us."
Now, perhaps the pope's remarks were taken out of context, or perhaps he meant that it was perfectly O.K. to have children and pets to round out your life and do God's bidding. But regardless of intent, his admonition struck a chord with us. Not everyone can have children, whether some people are literally unable to bear children or whether they choose to abstain for financial reasons, for example. And others, whether single, married, Catholic or other religion, simply choose not to reproduce. As Hall mentions in closing, "...people's humanity is well used when they care for dogs and cats. And if they choose to do that and not raise children, that's not a failure to fill their lives with children, that's a choice to fulfill their lives with animals."
Parental Unit's current furkids...she's had others from previous relationships.
But what do you think...not just about the pope's words and this reaction, but the role of pets in our lives? Come on, don't be shy—tell us!