The Pope NEVER made the rather unseemly remark that Catholics breed like rabbits. Everyone is encouraged to read both on print and on social media the transcript of the Papal interview aboard Philippine Airlines that flew the Holy Father back to Rome.
What the Pope DID SAY was that some Catholics mistakenly believe that to be Catholic, we ought to breed like rabbits — and prior to using that simile, he knew that it was harsh and so said “excuse the expression” — but it was apt and it brought home the point. And the point is that the Church has always taught that it is a Catholic obligation to be RESPONSIBLE about parenthood. Births should be planned rationally by both parents who must always remain open to new life, but who must also take into consideration their physical, financial and emotional capacity to raise children. It is not correct for a Catholic to assume the attitude: “Come what may!” This is traditional Church teaching that the Pope was reiterating, and it should be especially relevant to us Filipinos who are grappling with population issues.
It will also be important to go back to the Pope’s words at his meeting with families at MOA. There he said that Blessed Paul VI in his much-maligned Humanae Vitae prophetically understood that nations would be impoverished in the measure that they assume an anti-birth stance. The experience of aging nations with only a handful of youngsters to take on the jobs necessary for a country’s survival and growth has proved Blessed Paul VI right. At the same time, Paul VI urged PASTORS to be sensitive to PARTICULAR CASES, referring to cases that called to carefully balanced, prayerfully calibrated solutions in accordance with a well-formed conscience and in the context of the guidance received from the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
And this is certainly significant teaching for our time.
Let us leave the rabbits in peace!