Pope Francis defends contraceptives ban, warns Christians not to be 'like rabbits'

by Staff, |
Pope Francis leads the First Vespers and Te Deum prayers in Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican December 31, 2014. | REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi

MANILA, Philippines (Christian Examiner) – The Pope defended the Catholic ban on contraceptives and population control programs on Monday, Jan. 19, while ending his weeklong tour of Asia. But while aboard the return flight, he told reporters during an hour-long press conference good Catholics should not be "like rabbits" with regard to having children.

He expressed continuing support for the Catholic Church's ban on birth control, but cautioned against thinkiing there should be no family planning. 

"This does not mean a Christian must make children one after another," he told reporters, referring to a woman he met who had septuplets while raising another child. "Does she want to leave seven orphans? This is tempting God."

"She said, 'I trust in God.' But God gave us the means to be responsible," Francis said. "Some think -- and excuse the term -- that to be good Catholics, they must be like rabbits."

Although the Roman Catholic church rejects birth control and other contraception like IUDs, the pontiff said having too many children at one time was risky, as the parent could become irresponsible.

He said the church gives many "licit ways" to prevent too much reproduction.

The Pontiff also addressed his comments about Charlie Hebdo and free speech. He previously said that faith should not be insulted because it is precious to people, but he clarified his earlier comment by talking about the Scripture about turning the other cheek.

"In theory, we can say what the Gospel says, that we should turn the other cheek. In theory, we can say that we have freedom of expression," he said. "But in practice, let's stop a bit, because we are human and we risk provoking others. For this reason, freedom must be accompanied by prudence. That's what I wanted to say."

On Wednesday Pope Francis praised large families .

"The meetings with families and young people in Manila were important moments during the visit to the Philippines," Francis told a crowd of around 7,000 gathered in St Peter's square for his weekly audience.

"Healthy families are essential to the life of society.

"It provides us with consolation and hope to see so many large families who welcome children as a gift from God.

"These families know that each child is a blessing."