By John L. Allen Jr.
Francis lamented the “ideological colonization of the family” and defended Paul VI, who upheld the Church’s ban on contraception.
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I sense that Associated Press is stunned! The Pope is Catholic!
One of the nicest miters the Holy Father has worn!
By NICOLE WINFIELD and OLIVER TEVES 52 minutes ago
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Pope Francis issued his strongest defense yet of church teaching opposing artificial contraception on Friday, using a rally in Asia's largest Catholic nation to urge families to be "sanctuaries of respect for life."
Security was tighter than it has ever been for this pope, who relishes plunging into crowds. Cellphone service around the city was intentionally jammed for a second day on orders of the National Telecommunications Commission and roadblocks along Francis' motorcade route snarled traffic for miles (kilometers.)
Police vans followed his motorcade while officers formed human chains in front of barricades to hold back the tens of thousands of wildly cheering Filipinos who packed boulevards for hours just for a glimpse of his four-door Volkswagen passing by.
Police said another 86,000 gathered outside one of Manila's biggest sports arenas, capacity 20,000, where Francis held his first encounter with the Filipino masses: a meeting with families. There, he firmly upheld church teaching opposing artificial contraception and endeared himself to the crowd with off-the-cuff jokes and even a well-intentioned attempt at sign language.
"Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death," Francis exhorted the crowd. "What a gift this would be to society if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation."
He then deviated from his prepared remarks to praise Pope Paul VI for having "courageously" resisted calls for an opening in church teaching on sexuality in the 1960s. Paul penned the 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae" which enshrined the church's opposition to artificial birth control.
Francis noted that Paul was aware that some families would find it difficult to uphold the teaching and "he asked confessors to be particularly compassionate and understandable for particular cases."
"He looked beyond. He looked to the peoples of the Earth and saw the destruction of the family because of the lack of children," Francis said. "Paul VI was courageous. He was a good pastor. He warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching, and from the heavens he blesses us today."