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ROME (WJW) — Speaking before a general audience at the Vatican Wednesday, Pope Francis spoke to the trend of couples having pets rather than children saying “it takes away our humanity.”

The pope was speaking as part of a series on St. Joseph, focusing on parenthood, St. Joseph as the “foster father” of Jesus and what he described as the current “age of notorious orphanhood.”

Pope Francis said “many, many” couples don’t have children because they don’t want to. Or they just have one child “but they have two dogs, two cats.”

“Yes, dogs and cats take the place of children,” he said. “Yes, it’s funny, I understand, but it is the reality. And this denial of fatherhood or motherhood diminishes us, it takes away our humanity.”

He went on to say that causes civilization to become “aged” and “without humanity, because it loses the richness of fatherhood and motherhood.”

Also during his speech, Pope Francis called for making adoption easier. And he urged those who can’t have children to consider adoption.

“It is a risk, yes: having a child is always a risk, either naturally or by adoption,” he said. “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.”