Who’s diminished?

SINGKIT - Doreen G. Yu - The Philippine Star

I’ll be dog-sitting my friend’s Yorkie when she’s in Canada for three months. So last weekend we had a practice stayover to see how Noey would get along with my two Yorkies William and Pixie.

Their first meeting I can only describe as rambunctious; we could hardly tell where one dog ended and the other began. Fortunately it was all playful rough-housing – nothing serious, no snarling, no biting. After a good while they sort of calmed down, and the biggest danger was our stepping on one or more of them as they tend to follow the humans around.

At mealtimes they decided to make a buffet of it, since each one had a different diet – senior for 7-year-old William, adult for 15-month Pixie and Noey brought his own food. They went around eating off each other’s bowl, savoring different tastes. They shared toys too, and even the pillows they sleep on. With such bonhomie, I guess I’ll be having Noey as our houseguest starting next month.

In the middle of all this a friend reminded me of Pope Francis’ admonition about having pets instead of human children. Oh yes, that. At a general audience at the Vatican in early January, he said – among other things – that choosing not to have a child is “a form of selfishness,” and a denial of parenthood “diminishes us, takes away our humanity.”

That’s not the first time the pope has spoken on the subject. In 2014, he said that having pets instead of kids is “another phenomenon of cultural degradation.”

I’m just wondering if the diminishing and taking away of humanity applies as well to those mandated not to have children – priests and nuns, at least those who follow this mandate. I don’t mean to sound sassy or disrespectful, but I just have to wonder about the double standard.

I think the real taking away of humanity and cultural degradation is not with those who have pets instead of children, but with those who have child after child after child after child inspite of not being able to feed, clothe, house and educate them. Where is the humanity of the family living under the trees in the central island on Bonifacio Drive, with I can’t count how many small children running around, playing with stones, some approaching cars at the stoplight offering to clean the windows when they’re not even tall enough to reach the windows of a sedan, never mind an SUV.

Perhaps the otherwise cool pope can think about his church’s stand on responsible parenthood and the humanity of all these children. And maybe he can get a pet. After all, the saint whose name he took is the patron saint of animals, whom he called his brothers and sisters.


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