Pope Francis defends Catholic church stance on contraception during Philippines tour

Pontiff urged families to be "sanctuaries of respect for life"

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Pope Francis implored families to oppose artificial contraception and spoke out against corruption during a rally in the Philippines, Asia's biggest Catholic nation.

He denounced contraception to a crowd of 86,000 in Manila yesterday, saying: "Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. What a gift this would be to society if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation."

This comes swiftly after his controversial remarks on the Charlie Hebdo massacre broke yesterday, in which he said people who insulted religions could "expect a punch".

Filipino devotees hold limited edition Pope Francis dolls that are sold by the De La Salle University in Manila

In Manila, he also called Philippine government corruption "scandalous" and said: "It is now, more than ever, necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good."

He told the cheering crowds to "break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed scandalous, social inequalities". as part of their duty as Catholics.

Officials say around 50,000 police and troops were deployed to deal with the logistical challenge of securing this papal visit.

Francis' latest remarks on contraception could be seen as unhelpful for the poorest people in the strongly Catholic country, which sees an estimated 600,000 illegal abortions per year, 1,000 of which die. The Philippines population is also sharply rising, with its 100-million population increasing by an estimated 2 million per year.