Pope Calls Child-Free People ‘Selfish’
A few weeks ago Pope Francis wasÂ telling us not to breed like rabbits,Â but now he’s eliminated any suspicions we might have had about him being somewhat reasonable by saying those whoÂ choose to remain child-freeÂ are basically selfish monsters.Â NPR reports that in a general address in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope spoke to the crowd at length about his fond memories of his mother, the joy he believes children bring to the world, and how important he thinks children are to our society. In the middle of all those lovely things, he made sure to point out that having kids benefits everyone without exception and that people who don’t want kids are greedy and awful:
“A society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society,”Â the pope said.Â “The choice to not have children is selfish. Life rejuvenates and acquires energy when it multiplies: It is enriched, not impoverished.”
Not only did the Pope reference the tired stereotype of the ‘selfish’ child-free person and ignore the very serious realities of the way the Catholic church as an organization devalues children with their heinous response to abuse, but he also seems a little bit confused about the realities of the world right now. I mean, do they have newspapers at the Vatican? Of course people consider it a worry and a risk to have children.
There is war and famine, terrorism, infants contracting deadly viruses, rape culture, economic crises. Having children right now is downright terrifying. Sure, one could probably say there has always been terrible things going on in the world and that never stopped people from having kids before, but is it really a bad thing that people are being more responsible and socially conscious now?
I happen to think it’s fantastic that people have more of a say in this matter, at least in most of the western world, and I wish that same sort of freedom applied to everyone. There are so many places where women and even girls are forced into motherhood and marriage. There are so many places where children are used as a means of control and removing bodily autonomy. There are so many people in the world who would benefit from choice. If we care at all about society, we should be addressing those issues, not taking people to task for exercising their right to not reproduce.
I love my kids, and yes, my life did “rejuvenate and acquire energy” when I had them, but the same cannot be said for everyone. Not everyone wants kids. Not everyone is able to have kids. Not everyoneÂ should have kids. The freedom to weigh that decision as an individual is not a bad thing, and deciding thoughtfully that children aren’t for you is actually the opposite of selfish. It is sparing yourself, your potential partners, and your hypothetical children a life of unhappiness and possibly even harm. If you care at all about the joy and importance of children, you should see that as a good thing.