"This denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us, it takes away our humanity. And in this way civilization becomes aged and without humanity, because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood."
Considering St. Joseph as the adoptive father of Jesus, Pope Francis urged couples to be open to parenthood, because “Fatherhood and motherhood are the fullness of the life of a person.”
The Pope said this during the general audience of January 5, in which he continued his series of reflections on St. Joseph.
One of his main points was to praise those who are open to adopt a child, saying, “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 said, while also urging institutions to make adoption safe but also accessible.
Acknowledging both the pain of infertility and the reality of the spiritual fatherhood and motherhood especially characteristic of those consecrated to God, the Pope said that we should not be afraid “to take the ‘risk’ of welcoming children.”
Fullness of life
The Holy Father has often mentioned the warnings being raised by economists and sociologists because of the “demographic winter” many nations are going through. This term describes when the country’s fertility rate is below replacement level, meaning the society is progressively aging and diminishing.
“Many, many couples do not have children because they do not want to, or they have just one – but they have two dogs, two cats… Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children. Yes, it’s funny, I understand, but it is the reality,” he lamented.
“This denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us, it takes away our humanity. And in this way civilization becomes aged and without humanity, because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood.”
The Pope noted that this brings about an uncertain future. “Our homeland suffers, as it does not have children, and, as it has been said somewhat humorously, ‘and now who will pay the taxes for my pension, if there are no children?’ — with laughter, but it is the truth. Who will take care of me?”
I ask of Saint Joseph the grace to awaken consciences and to think about this: about having children. Fatherhood and motherhood are the fullness of the life of a person. Think about this. It is true, there is the spiritual fatherhood of those who consecrated themselves to God, and spiritual motherhood; but those who live in the world and get married, think about having children, of giving life, which they will take from you for the future.
And also, if you cannot have children, think about adoption. It is a risk, yes: having a child is always a risk, either naturally or by adoption. But it is riskier not to have them. It is riskier to deny fatherhood, or to deny motherhood, be it real or spiritual. But denial, a man or woman who do not develop the sense of fatherhood or motherhood, they are lacking something, something fundamental, something important. Think about this, please.