• ‘Catholics should not breed like rabbits’

    Pope on Parenthood Francis gestures as he talks to journalists on board a plane during his trip back to Rome. AFP PHOTO

    Pope on Parenthood Francis gestures as he talks to journalists on board a plane during his trip back to Rome. AFP PHOTO

    ROME: Pope Francis has said good Catholics do not have to breed “like rabbits,” defending the Church’s stance on artificial contraception and appealing to the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics to practice responsible parenting.

    Speaking to journalists on his flight back from the Philippines on Monday, the Pope recalled that he once asked a mother of seven children who was pregnant with her eighth if she wanted to “leave behind seven young orphans.”

    “She said, ‘I trust in God.’ But God gave us the means to be responsible,” the pontiff said. “Some think, and excuse the term, that to be good Catholics, they must be like rabbits.”

    Francis said creating new life was “part of the sacrament of marriage” and in Manila he strongly defended his predecessor Paul VI’s outlawing of artificial contraception for Catholics in 1968.

    But he noted that following the Church’s teachings did not mean “Christians should have children one after the other.”

    His comments came at the end of a trip to the Philippines, the Catholic Church’s Asian stronghold, which last year passed a family planning law after a 15-year battle by the Church to block state-sanctioned contraception.

    The law allows the government to begin distributing free contraceptives to millions of poor Filipinos.

    It was a rare loss for the Church, which has for centuries been one of the nation’s most powerful institutions and continues to count more than 80 percent of the nation’s 100 million people as Catholics.

     ‘Responsible parenthood’  

    The Pope said his predecessor had foreseen the rise in policies restricting childbirth.

    “Paul VI was worried by the growth of neo-Malthusianism” (which advocates restricting the number of children the poor can have) which tried to “put a control on humanity . . . he was a prophet,” he added.

    “The key teaching of the Church is responsible parenthood. And how do we get that? By dialogue. There are marriage groups in the Church, experts and pastors,” Francis said.

    In 2013, six months after becoming Pope, he urged the Church to drop its “obsession” with contraception, divorce, gays and abortion, in an interview signaling a dramatic shift in the Vatican’s tone.

    The Argentine Pope has brought a series of fresh perspectives to the notoriously rigid Church since he took over, signaling a strong reformist drive.

    He stressed at the time that the Church’s official position had not changed, but said it should “always keep in mind the individual.”

    Francis’ papacy—he is the first Jesuit Pope and the first from South America —has marked a series of breaks with Vatican tradition.

    The pontiffe has become known for his humility and concern for the poor, and has reached out to non-believers and those in other religions. He regularly picks up the phone to call ordinary people who write to him.



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    1. Yes, the Philippines has its own problems of runaway population which must be abated by stringent rules like mandating the number of off springs a family can have and violations must be met with penalties & punishments. Some may scoff at this proposal but please don’t wait until it’s too late and becomes necessary.

    2. Bravo to Pope Francis for advising Filipinos not to breed like rabbits. It takes an enlightened Pope to veer away from the archaic teaching of unrestricted procreation and to preach responsible parenthood to Filipino couples. Filipinos had long met God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply”. It’s time to restrain our rapid population growth rate, or we will be doomed as a nation.

      From 28 million in 1960, our population had exploded out of control to 101 million today, 54 percent of whom rate themselves as poor. Twenty five million Filipinos were reported struggling to survive on 60 cents each a day. Twenty to thirty thousand children live-off the streets of Metro Manila. It’s time to slow down our birth rate.

      The good Pope Francis said too it’s time to stop the rampant corruption and the shameful inequality in the distribution of wealth in our country. How it is possible that the Philippines has Forbes-listed Chinoys worth billions in dollars but at the same time, has millions of its citizens living in slums?

      While the government brags that our economy is surging, the economic benefits have not trickled down to our poor. The rich should now share their wealth with the poor. They have to pay more in taxes.The salaries of all-low paid workers should be raised. The wealth of our country should be shared by giving all Filipinos free medicare. All deserving Filipino students should be given free education in all state universities. All poor senior citizens should be given old age pensions so they don’t end up begging to survive.These we must do if we are a true God-loving nation.

    3. Intensive renewal of life is what we need now. I’m proud to be a Iglesia Ni Cristo from the Far East, PHILIPPINES.

    4. If you can ignore the Pope on graft, corruption and helping the poor then why not ignore him on birth control.

    5. And most of all Filipinos Filipinos should and must not breed like the Binays. Don’t forget the statement of the Pope about “corruption”. The Binays are the most corrupt politicians we have in the Philippines. Let us pray to save the Philippines from the Binays.

    6. Responsible parenting should be redefined by the Catholic CHURCH. With the exception of abortion, they should consider any means or methods to prevent unwanted pregnancies either by natural or any other method.If the Catholic opposes the government effort to curve the unsustainable rise in population, then the church should be in the forefront educating their members the approved methods of birth control. They should require prenuptial counselling before officiating any wedding. When God said GO MULTIPLY there was just Adam and Eve. Now the Pope said to be more responsible and do not breed like rabbits. Alleluia, Praise the Lord…..

    7. When God said “Go forth and multiply” He did not say He will take care of your offsprings. How many ignorant preachers would always say “Don’t worry, God will take care of the rest”. Over population is one reason we are a poor country. In my tilapia farming if I have the right number per square meter, the fish grow larger and healthier. One time I tried doubling the count, the fish never attained the right size. Bansot ang resulta. That is what I see in poor families. Bansot. Children should never be made to suffer because of irresponsible multiplication!

    8. vagoneto rieles on

      The graphic phrase “breeding like rabbits” sounds rather unflattering; and given our high population, one might say, “right on”. Viewed from a different perspective, however, we might change our minds. A country..a people..must sustain a positive balance of 2.1%, (at least), in population growth, after netting off death rate from birth rate…if it is to maintain its culture. As it now stands, the Philippine death rate is at .004, (4 tenths of 1%), whereas the birth rate is just below 2.5%, (2.5 off-springs from one mother), for a net growth rate, therefore, of 2.15%.
      We do have problems arising from over-population, some say.We have a population of between 98,000,000 and 100,000,000, and a land area of 300,00 sq km., for a density of 330 people/sq km.We are on the high end, obviously. But..so are Singapore,(7540 density);Hong Kong, (6540 density); Taiwan,(644 density); and, South Korea, (501 density). These other countries have much smaller land areas.. from Singapore’s 716 sq km, to South Korea’s 100,000 sq km. Their per capita incomes, however, are quite high..from Taiwan’s $20,000.00 to Singapore’s $50,000.00. The Filipino’s per capita income, by the way, is a low $2790.00, despite our much bigger area and leaner density. There is something wrong with this picture.
      To my mind, both the problem and the solution lie with the government. The Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches should get serious in eradicating graft and corruption, which, according to the Pope, diverts funds away from the poor. (Five or seven plundderers sitting in their comfortable cells, still awaiting trial, speaks volumes about the problem. We have not even scratched the surface.) And, the solutions..sustainable agriculture, infrastructure building, export industries, service and tourism..they are slow in coming.
      Let’s not dwell on excuses. Let’s go look for solutions.

      • While the governments of Singapore and Hong Kong are the least corrupt in the world, the government of the Philippines is one of the most corrupt countries in the world. While Singapore and Hong Kong have low unemployment rates, the Philippines has an unemployment and underemployment rate in the 35% range. While Singapore and HK’s per capita incomes are $78,000 and $52,000 respectively, Philippines per capita income is just $6,000. While Singapore and HK are First World, the Philippines is stuck at being a Third World country with half of its population living below the poverty line.

        You are comparing apples to oranges, therefore your comparison is invalid. It’s time for the Philippines to slow down its birth rate as a first step in solving its poverty problem.

    9. Filipinos on the low end of the intelligence spectrum would have a hard time trying to understand this concept, but those who are ‘educated’ must come to think of the words spoken by the pope.

      The worst part of the whole term ‘breeding like rabbit’, as the pope stressed, is that it must be examined by the faithful where this all came from, it must also be stressed how the church played its role on this, and it is not far from one phrase ‘go out and multiply’, which had been pounded unto the churchgoer’s psyche, that it is a duty for believers of the faith to do so. And it is a wrong impression, the term ‘go out and multiply’, is meant to encourage the faithful to deliver religion to those who have not heard of its teachings.

      Then, as for politicians, it’s all a numbers game. Understand that for a family living on the street, that breeds like rabbit and can propagate eight children, at the turn of the fourth cycle of an election, with no less than eight of the members of the family being eligible to vote and aiming at a bonanza of vote selling, it can disenfrachise a middle working class family of four or six, by a ratio of 1.3 to 2 – this is not counting on those ‘educated’ ones with fan-idol mentality.

      Now, controlling a population is not just about food security and self-sufficiency, as it will be an end result of maintaining an intellectually conscious society, taxes contributed to the government by working middle class family will be put to good use in developing the country – not to be used needlessly in supporting a non-productive segment of society that breeds like rabbits – this is the thought expressed by the pope.

      • In response to Vagoneto and Naldo’s comments:

        Contextual metrics for Pope Francis’s rabbit analogy: Rabbits breed February to October, 30-day gestation, 5-8 bunnies per litter for a maximum of 60-96 bunnies a year (tinyurl.com/kxgm6u8). I don’t think Pinoys are anywhere near that prolific yet, but we definitely shouldn’t try to outdo rabbits just to set a new Guinness World Record the way we are always trying to do so in most everything else.

    10. Catholics should not breed like rabbits. They should practice responsible family planning. This does not mean however that they should practice artificial contraception, or have themselves ligated or sterilized or even do abortion. This simply means that spouses are not advised to engage in the marital act during their fertile or fecund periods. There are medical ways to determine periods of fertility. Spouses should go to Catholic doctors for proper medical advice.

      Responsible family planning also involves a commitment to have only the number of children couples can afford to support. This entails proper information and discipline.To open one’s eyes to the truth that begetting children irresponsibly is a grave injustice is a good beginning.

      • How do you get your messages to a slum dweller whose only entertainment after dark is sex? They are jobless and have 5 children begging in the streets and foraging on garbage to find food.

      • Responsible parents means to tend to your children in a proper way. Responsible Parenting means that you do not breed like rabbits if you cannot sustain it and the Catholic Bishops of the Philippines should take note of this.