Lifestyle Pets Pope Francis on Couples Who Decide to Have Pets Instead of Children: 'Nations Suffer From This' "Giving up on being a mother or father can take some of our humanity away from us," Pope Francis said while sharing his thoughts on couples who opt for pets instead of children By Charmaine Patterson Charmaine Patterson Digital News Writer, PEOPLE People Editorial Guidelines Published on January 5, 2022 09:53 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Pope Francis. Photo: AYMAN HENNA/AFP via Getty Pope Francis shared his opinion on couples who decide to have pets instead of children, saying that it results in a loss of "humanity." While speaking to a general audience about Saint Joseph serving as Jesus' "foster father," Pope Francis, 85, said, according to translation from Vatican News, "Joseph shows us that this type of bond is not secondary; it is not an afterthought, no, this kind of choice is among the highest forms of love, and of fatherhood and motherhood. How many children in the world are waiting for someone to take care of them?" He applauded those who decide to adopt children before turning his attention to couples who choose to have pets rather than children. For more on Pope Francis, listen below to our daily podcast on PEOPLE Every Day. "Some people don't wish to have children, or maybe just one or two. Many couples don't have children, perhaps because they do not wish to, or they only have one and not more," Pope Francis said. "But they might have two domestic animals, two dogs or cats. This is quite a contrast." Pope Francis Says Getting the COVID Vaccine Is an 'Act of Love' — for Yourself and Humanity He said that "giving up on being a mother or father can take some of our humanity away from us," adding, "society becomes older and without humanity because we lose the richness of motherhood and fatherhood. Nations suffer from this." He later added that while it's "always a risk" to have children biologically or through adoption, it's "even more risky not having children." "We need to be open to motherhood and fatherhood otherwise we can be lacking in ourselves and we can lack in humanity," Pope Francis said. Pope Francis Grants Women Formal Permission to Perform Higher Tasks at Mass, But Not Priesthood The Pope is no stranger to openly speaking on marriages and families. A March 2021 statement from the Vatican, approved by Pope Francis, said the Catholic Church will not bless same-sex unions because God "does not and cannot bless sin." The statement served as a formal response to questions regarding the Church's power to bless same-sex marriages after Pope Francis declared his support for the civil unions of same-sex couples. While the Vatican said that the community should welcome gay people with "respect and sensitivity," their unions would not receive the same embrace, as under Catholic teachings, marriages as per "God's plan" should be between a man and a woman to create new life. RELATED VIDEO: Little Boy Runs On Stage With Pope Francis Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories. "For this reason, it is not licit to impart a blessing on relationships, or partnerships, even stable, that involve sexual activity outside of marriage, as is the case of the unions between persons of the same sex," the statement said. The Vatican went on to say that while there are "positive elements" in such relationships that are "valued and appreciated," it "cannot justify these relationships and render them legitimate objects of the ecclesial blessing." "The declaration of the unlawfulness of blessings of unions between persons of the same sex is not therefore, and is not intended to be, a form of unjust discrimination, but rather a reminder of the truth of the liturgical rite and of the very nature of the sacramentals, as the Church understands them," the statement said.