Pope Francis and the Idolatry of Spending on Pets


"One interesting fact about this paganism…… the amount spent on non-necessities worldwide. Let’s put aside spending on necessary things such as food and medicine. Of those things that are not necessities, or superfluous things, the greatest amount is spent on pets. The most unnecessary spending is made on pets. Pets are idolized. And there’s the idolatry to buy, to rent, to have a feeling to give as I want, where I want, without needing a response, isn’t that true? It’s all a caricature of love. And the second largest amount of money is spent on cosmetology. Cosmetics. I don’t remember exactly the amounts worldwide, but there are millions and millions spent on these two things. Meanwhile the Pope is talking about children who are dying of hunger in underdeveloped continents like Africa, Asia and America. First come pets. And then if there is something left we throw it to the children……” - Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis)

Question about pets

How is having anything more than the bare necessities considered idolatry? King David and King Solomon lived luxuriously.



I don’t understand what this is supposed to mean.


I think he just means to bring to people’s minds the issue of humility. He never said he is perfect. I don’t understand the remarks on idolatry though.


Cover your head, Superblue, “They are coming.”


UH OH, don’t be criticizing people and their pets…

I understand how it must look to Pope Francis and I have a theory of my own…
about pets, that is… God made us to love, and lots of us do and that often makes children for us to love. But if there are no children or not many children then we fill up the space with pets and lavish our love on them… not that there’s anything wrong with pets… no, they are good. But people were made to love…


I think people like pets, because they are like children, but mindless. They are incapable of misbehaving. They are absent of virtue or vice. They are just neutral entities that will obey you since you provide for them. Maybe that is what he meant when bringing up idolatry. Maybe some people have pets for the wrong reasons, and pamper them to an idolatrous extreme.


Pets and cosmetics are not inherently immoral. Overspending on them may very well be.


Unfortunately there is truth to what you say. I wish the church would admit that the reason some people live in economies where even the pets are looked after is because of capitalism. For too many in the church this great system that reduced poverty is thought of as exploitive. There are many poor Catholic countries in the world that would benefit enormously from the church having a supportive attitude to capitalism.

Poverty by definition is a lack of goods. Capitalism is the greatest system for producing goods and because it is a swapping of wealth in order to participate it necessarily encourages more production of wealth/goods.

What disappoints me about my church is that it believes if it can take tax payers money and have the right to distribute it then it is fulfilling Jesus’ commands to help the poor. In poor countries that don’t have developed economies the tax payers money is not there. Production is the key to helping the poor and participatory capitalism is the best system to increase production.

The answer is not to force or shame people from looking after their pets and redistribute their wealth to poor nations but to improve poor economies and encourage participating in capitalism there.

Same story with mass migration. You are not helping the world situation by facilitating mass immigration to the west you are creating more problems. I fear if my church does not come to terms with the goodness of nationalism and capitalism it will be making the world a worse place while erroneously believing itself to be .
fulfilling the mission of Christ.


Perhaps you do not realize what it looks on the outside excesses with and for pets. And also the excesses for looking " Forever Young" ( good Rod Stewart…)
There is all sort of excesses. Yes,he is absolutely right.
And it is apples and oranges with ideology.
He isn t speaking of pet food and a mosturizer…
That doesn t become the two highest expenditures…

  1. This interview was made. I believe, before he was Pope. Presumably he has grown a bit in wisdom since becoming leader.

  2. Some stuff people buy for their pets is pretty stupid and expensive.

  3. Spending money on healthy food and necessary vet care for God’s animal creatures is called “good stewardship”.


It’s pretty common for Priests to use idolatry as a metaphor for modern consumerism and vanity. People today aren’t burning grain before graven idols but they are putting Earthly things before God.


One also needs to consider the culture Pope Francis came out of. There is a very large wealth disparity there, and also a lot of conspicuous consumption.

I know people in US talk about wealth disparity, but trust me it is way worse in many other countries.


You are very right,Tis…
. And there is much more that we haven t seen and we do not know but he sees and he does know. It is a big world…


Inevitably, many will respond with pride and defensiveness towards the Pope’s words. There’s nothing I can do about that.

I think it is (or should be) common sense that the sermon is an exhortation towards our priorities in life, and where we are investing our hearts & treasure. There is no personal risk in animals. That is why it is easy to build a dependency on them and to escape from possibly being hurt. We can cuddle with them and the absolute worst thing that could happen is that they’re in an irritable mood, which they cannot verbally express.

It isn’t a blanket condemnation towards animal companions. The Cardinal isn’t inventing a new teaching. He is speaking on a legitimate problem.

It isn’t rare to be shocked by pet expenditures if you’ve traveled the world. I remember somebody who spent a year in Palestine in the 1990s. When she came back to the US and walked past an entire aisle dedicated to pet care, she couldn’t help but start crying.


There is much true in that.,TK421
As stupid as it may sound I cried over socks left behind in a playground and as I was helping after event ,was told to throw them away. Many,many socks after a water event…I am not saying it is your fault,but we had to gather funds to buy socks for children here. It hurt.
You know,we are used to getting some "knocking on our heads " from our priests,and also from our then Bishop,our Pope.
And I am grateful. We grow up…
Thanks for your posts.


Yet there is a man in Aleppo who is running a cat shelter and helping to save zoo animals that were abandoned due to the war. He also helps local children by visiting them in his “cat mobile,” giving them candy and stuffed toys that people crochet for his cause. Sometimes the children come to play with the cats. People donate money to help the children and help the cats. He hopes to build other things like a children’s hospital and playground and is working to get approvals and money.

It started with him feeding a few homeless cats who had lost their homes and families due to the war.
He is a kind man to both the cats and children. He shows love to all creatures.
I think both Jesus and Pope Francis would approve.

There is nothing “defensive” about compassion, whatever form it takes. I also do not know a single person who helps animals who doesn’t also contribute to human charities and show compassion towards humans. Note I said “helps” which is not the same thing as “blew a lot of money on pet shop junk.”


Take a gander in your local supermarket. More pet food in a dedicated aisle (often both sides) than there is baby food - wherever that is…


I can understand the critic in his words. There is nothing wrong with loving a pet, wearing lipstick or spending money for both, BUT I see so many people who, for example, misunderstand love for a pet with love for children. It´s not a sin out of a bad character at all it is often loneliness and insecurity in human relationship. A friend of mine came to germany from the syrian war and told me "I see all your wealth here, but so many old ladies with dogs they humanize and care for as they were their children…why are they so lonely?"
I think there is no exact number of money one should spent for a pet. I have a dog and love him and would spent much if I had the money in case of illness, but I would never buy all this useless stuff as dog clothing, dog cakes etc. I cook the food for the dog every two days, and when I got my dog, I searched online for recipes. There are “gourmet blogs” for dogs. I mean, really?!
Bus as said above, I never met a person active in animal help projects who not has a wide heart for human charity, too.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.