Birth control ban doesn't mean breed 'like rabbits,' Pope says

"Some think that - excuse me if I use this word - that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible paternity, that is clear." Pope Francis says.

January 20, 2015 13:44
3 minute read.

Francis gestures as he speaks with journalists on his flight back from to Rome. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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Catholics should not feel that they have to breed "like rabbits" because of the Church's ban on contraception, Pope Francis said on Monday (January 19), adding that the natural family planning methods approved by the Church do work.

Francis used the language, unusual for a pope, during an air-borne news conference on the plane taking him back to Rome from Manila at the end of his week-long trip to Asia.

"Some think that, excuse me if I use that word, that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits," he said, and added "No". "Paternal responsibility, that is clear," stressing that parents should take responsibility when they have intercourse.

The Church approves only natural methods of birth control, such as abstinence from sexual relations during a woman's fertile period.

During the hour-long talk, he also indirectly criticised advanced countries and international organisations who he said try to influence the lifestyles and morals of young people in poorer nations, comparing their activity to the behaviour by Nazi and Fascist propagandists in the 20th century.

And he spoke of what he called an "ideological colonisation" of the family.

He gave the example of an education minister he knew who was offered a loan to build schools for the poor. But it was on the condition that their libraries stocked a book on gender theory.

"Why do I say ideological colonization? Because they take the needs of a people, or they take an opportunity to enter to become stronger with the children" he said.

"This isn't new they did the same thing, the dictators of the last century, they entered with their doctrines, think about Balilla, think about the Hitler youth. They colonized the people, well they wanted to do it. But how much suffering" he said.

The Opera Nationale Balilla was the Italian equivalent of the Hitler Youth group during the Fascist dictatorship of Benito Mussolini.

The freewheeling encounters have become a hallmark of Francis' simple style, penchant for straight talk on any topic and ease at using colloquialisms to get his point across.

Speaking about the problem of corruption he also recalled how when he was a bishop in his native Argentina in 1994, he came close to kicking someone "where the sun doesn't shine" after the man tried to involve him in bribery scheme.

"In that moment I thought, what should I do? I could insult them and give them a kick where the sun doesn't shine. Or I could play the fool," he explained to the some 70 journalists on the plane.

"I played the fool. I told them, but in truth, I said as you know here in the vicarage we do not have an account you need to make the deposit in the archbishopric and get a receipt. And that was it. Oh we didn't know -they said thank you and they left," the Pope said.

Pope Francis also spoke once again regarding his statements of freedom of expression.

He has come in for some criticism with his statements made on the plane coming over to Sri Lanka at the start of the trip.

"In theory we should say what is said in the bible that we should turn the other cheek. In theory we can say that we have freedom to express ourselves and this is important. We all agree in theory. But we are human beings and we have one of the virtues of living together called prudence," he said.

"I cannot insult and provoke a person continuously because I risk making them angry and I risk receiving a reaction that isn't correct, that is not correct. This is human. For this reason I say freedom of expression must take into consideration human reality and therefore, I say, it must be prudent."

The pope is returning from his trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines.
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