Pope Francis insists Catholics do not need to breed 'like rabbits' and criticises woman for 'tempting God' with eighth pregnancy

The Pontiff said 'responsible parenthood' requires couples to regulate the birth of their children

Heather Saul
Tuesday 20 January 2015 10:03
Pope Francis talks with journalists during his flight from Manila to Rome
Pope Francis talks with journalists during his flight from Manila to Rome

Pope Francis has insisted Catholics do not need to breed “like rabbits” and criticised a woman for “tempting God” by risking her life with an eighth pregnancy after delivering seven children by caesarean section.

Speaking to reporters as he travelled back to Rome from the Philippines, Francis said there are plenty of church-approved ways to regulate births.

On the trip, he gave his strongest defence yet of the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which enshrined the church's opposition to artificial birth control.

On the plane, the Pope insisted that being a good Catholic did not involve breeding “like rabbits”, arguing that "responsible parenthood" requires that couples regulate the births of their children, as church teaching allows.

The Catholic Church upholds a strict ban on contraception. Instead, it advocates that women monitor their menstruation cycle to avoid intercourse when she is ovulating.

Francis cited the case of a woman who was pregnant with her eighth child after seven caesarean sections, saying that is “an irresponsibility.”

According to the National Catholic Reporter, he said: “This is to tempt God”. He also asked: "Does she want to leave the seven orphans?"

"God gives you methods to be responsible," he continued. "Some think that - excuse the word - that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. Parenthood is about being responsible. This is clear."

But he said most importantly, no outside institution should impose its views on regulating family size, blasting what he called the "ideological colonisation" of the developing world.

African bishops, in particular, have long complained about how progressive, Western ideas about birth control and gay rights are increasingly being imposed on the developing world by groups, institutions or individual nations, often as a condition for development aid.

Francis said “every people” should be able to conserve its identity without being “ideologically colonised.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in