Pope Francis: Stop Breeding ‘Like Rabbits’

Pope Francis waved to well-wishers upon arrival from in Manila, Philippines.
Pope Francis waved to well-wishers upon arrival from in Manila, Philippines. –Bullit Marquez/ AP

Pope Francis is cracking jokes again, and this time he’s employed a surprisingly colorful simile to talk about contraception. Addressing birth control and rising population at the end of his trip to Southeast Asia this week, he opted for straight talk.

“Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits…but no,’’ he told reporters at a Monday news conference, according to Reuters. The pope said some Catholics who have many children don’t promote “responsible parenthood,’’ and specifically mentioned a woman he had encountered previously who put her life at risk to have a seventh child by cesarean section. He called her decision “an irresponsibility.’’

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“Does she want to leave seven orphans?’’ he said. “This is tempting God.’’

The comments were given in the fast-growing, largely Catholic Philippines, which recently passed legislation guaranteeing contraceptive methods in the name of reproductive health, despite religious opposition. Although the rabbit analogy may seem to suggest contraception, more realistically it probably implies that the pope regards Natural Family Planning to be a reasonable solution. The Catholic church considers birth control pills, devices, and condoms to be “artificial contraception.’’

This comment is just one of many progressive statements Francis has made since assuming the papacy in 2013. That year his response to questions about homosexuality was: “Who am I to judge?’’

Francis also addressed “ideological colonization’’ at the conference, saying traditional personal beliefs and practices are under threat, and made headlines earlier this week after the Charlie Hebdo terror attacks for saying that free speech has limits when it comes to religion.

Pope Francis also recently confirmed that he will visit the United States in 2015, and plans to stop in New York City, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.

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