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Birth control, 'ideological colonization' are topics as Pope speaks with reporters

January 19, 2015

Pope Francis spoke about birth control, responsible parenthood, and “ideological colonization” during an exchange with reporters as he flew from the Philippines to Rome on January 19.

The Pope also confirmed that he will visit the cities of New York and Washington, as well as Philadelphia, during a September trip to the US. [See today’s separate CWN headline story] Responding to two different questions about his support for Humanae Vitae and its condemnation of contraception, the Pope lamented the “neo-Malthusian” ideology that prevails in much of the world today. He pointed to the birth rates in Italy and Spain, lagging below 1%, and decried “that neo-Malthusianism that seeks to control humanity on behalf of the powers that be.”

The Pope went on to say that refraining from the use of contraception does not mean that “Catholics have to be like rabbits.” He recalled that he had once rebuked a woman who was pregnant for the 8th time, after having had seven difficult births. “But do you want to leave seven orphans?” he asked. Referring to the possibility of natural family planning, he said: “Each person, with his pastor, seeks how to do that: responsible parenthood.” At the same time, he reminded the listening reporters, “for most poor people, a child is a treasure.”

Responding to a question about his criticism of “ideological colonization,” the Pope said that he was referring to organizations that promote their own agendas in impoverished countries, offering “certain loans with certain conditions.” Mentioning one case in which funds for education were tied to adoption of a text promoting gender theory. “They enter with an idea that has nothing to do with the people,” he said, adding that every society has the right to protect its own culture.

The Pope encouraged reporters to read Robert Hugh Benson’s book, Lord of the World, promising that those who read it “will understand what I mean by ideological colonization.” During the interview the Pope also responded to criticism of his earlier statements on the Charlie Hebdo killings. He stressed that a violent reaction to an insult is morally wrong. But he added that prudent people, recognizing human nature, should not deliberately provoke others. He said:

I cannot constantly insult, provoke a person continuously, because I risk making him angry, and I risk receiving an unjust reaction, one that is not just. But that’s human.

Pope Francis disclosed that he is planning a visit to Africa for the end of this year, with Uganda and the Central African Republic as the likely objectives.


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  • Posted by: bernie4871 - Jan. 20, 2015 5:47 PM ET USA

    We never did reproduce like rabbits; just stopped dying like flies. Then there was Quebec, Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Holland, etc., etc. 2000 yrs of striving to live like God wants were lost to a pill. Catholics forgot three words - God, generous, continence - and replaced them with "me". Actually, the word is "lukewarm". Tomorrow's elderly should consider what they can expect when today no one is expecting.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2015 9:22 PM ET USA

    I do not favor speaking of Catholics with large families as being like rabbits. This language seems to trivialize a solemn duty before God (be fruitful and multiply) for those married persons blessed with fertility. That this language was uttered by the Pope is all the more surprising.