Wednesday, January 21, 2015


My Comments first: I guess I am not use to popes using trashy street talk or turning the papacy into another episode of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." And I have to say that I was distressed by the pope's "rabbit" talk about women who have many babies for it implied that all large families are a mistake and that the Catholic parents simply didn't know how to plan their families by reducing the number of children by natural family planning, as though all mothers and fathers who have more than three children are ignoramuses in this regard.

The families I know who practice natural family planning are open to children as a gift from God and gladly welcome them. They are not rabbits nor is their sex life rabbit like. It is so crass for anyone, especially a pope to say something like this. I feel bad for parents with numerous children who have embraced these children because they love God and the Church and have tried to be faithful Catholics!

So, I am glad that Pope Francis has seen the light and I pray that he will see that some of the trappings of the court in terms of papal protocol and dress and seriousness are meant to keep the papacy potent and immune from "honey boo boo" moments of indiscretion that turns the papacy is some kind of reality show for our entertainment.

And yes, it could compromise his papal magisterium when he offers serious no nonsense teachings.

Vatican City (AFP) - Pope Francis on Wednesday described large families as a "gift from God", just days after he said Catholics did not need to "breed like rabbits".

In an apparent attempt to put the controversial comments he made on his way back from a visit to the Philippines into context, the Argentinian argued that the global economic system is the primary cause of poverty, rather than overpopulation.

"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.

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."


Anonymous said...

Good grief.

This is my very first "public" response wherein I wish this pope would just stop the stupid "interview-in-back-of-the-plane" comments that give faithful Catholics *another* Scooby Doo moment where we say: "Rah-Roh, Raggy."

My wife and I were offended by his "breed like rabbits" comment. When we realized the beauty of the Church's (and, hence, Christ's) teaching on being open to life we had five more children after our first two (two of those last five are in heaven).

After third child was born (because we were *open* to the possibility of getting pregnant)the female doctor came out into the waiting room and asked me, "Kevin, I know of your Catholic beliefs. Your wife's uterus is paper thin. She *cannot* get pregnant again. It could cost her her life. While I have her opened up (C-section) I can tie her tubes."

To which I nervously replied, "We cannot do that. We can't!" (this was a secular hospital)

After this handsome young baby *blessed us*, we had two more - and miscarried two.

We *were* trying not to get pregnant with the last two. (yes, NFP) However, the *Lord* had other plans.

Our last two are boys. Our priest thinks one of them has a vocation to the priesthood. Our youngest "plays" priest at home and he cannot wait until he can serve at the Altar.

I hope and pray that Pope Francis would just *stop* with these silly, insipid (contemporary Jesuitical) comments and lead souls to heaven with *the Truth*.

(rant off)

Catechist Kev

Vox Cantoris said...

Yeah, there's a four letter word more associated with it than "breed" and we all know what it is.

Is this a sick joke?

Has he gone mad.

People need to stop making excuses and trying to explain his comments.

What we got the Pope we deserved not the one we needed.

Juden said...

Catholic couples who have more than three children are not "ignoramuses", but Catholic couples who do NOT have more than three children are almost surely using more than "natural family planning".

Ref. "Catechist Kev" above....

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

"Breeding like rabbits" means to breed unthinkingly or irresponsibly. This kind of irresponsibility was called by Pope John Paul II, "an ideology of fertility at all costs." (1994)

Also from JP2: "There are, however, circumstances in which this disposition [to be a responsible parent] itself demands renunciation of procreation, and any further increase in the size of the family would be incompatible with parental duty. A man and a woman moved by true concern for the good of their family and a mutual sense of responsibility for the birth, maintenance, and upbringing of their children, will then limit intercourse and abstain from it in periods in which this might result in another pregnancy undesirable in the particular conditions of their married life and family."

Pope Paul VI said in Humanae Vitae: “responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time” (No 10)

There was nothing in Pope Francis' comments that is 1) out of line with standard Catholic teaching or 2) insulting to those who, responsibly, choose to have many children.

Anonymous said...

While his comments, in their brevity, are not inconsistent with the clear teaching of his predecessors, they could use a good polishing.

In his defense, the word "breeding" was not his own. He said something to the effect of "we should not be like rabbits." Perhaps this should really be applied to our hypersexual contracepting culture in the west. I am sympathetic to responsible large families who are already roundly chastised by passers by for slurping up the world's resources with all their selfish baby-making - but the remedy always given is to contracept, as if periodic abstinence were beyond mere mortals' ability. I think that says more about our culture than anything.


George said...

Fr Kavanaugh:
What "Breeding like rabbits" means is not the issue here. It is the use of the term itself, which the Holy Father used in an impolitic moment of answering a question, and which he now thankfully regrets using.

Jdj said...

Fr. MJK,
You are most likely correct with point 1); however given the media frenzy surrounding the Holy Father's latest airplane comment, I don't see how you can justify point 2). Would you have chosen the words "breeding like rabbits" and expected a good result?
We have a Protestant friend, now elderly, who was blessed with only one child. He was highly insulted by the comment and could not believe it came from the mouth of any clergyman, let alone the Pope.

Православный физик said...

Word choice is a very important thing, think twice, speak once. Perhaps HH needs to do more thinking before speaking. Granted I'm probably doing a little too much wishing, as he's not likely to change.

Anonymous said...

Yeo, I think the pope could be more careful in his comments, but the reality is that contraception (at least within marriage) is not a battle that can be won in this country. Use is so widespread (especially regrettable in our colleges and universities, many of which have coed dorms and rooms), it is taken as a given. I don't know of any other denomination---not even conservative Southern Baptists or the Eastern Orthodox---that opposes its use within marriage. A more pressing issue that we can do something about is the gay marriage one that the Supreme Court will take up this spring. Georgia voted about 75% for banning gay marriage in 2004---winning in all 159 counties,even in heavily Democratic Clayton, DeKalb and Fulton Counties here in metro Atlanta. Conservatives had better turn up the heat on this one---all 5 GOP-appointed justices are Catholic. Furthermore, if you think the moral climate is bad now, just think what it will be if Hillary is elected in 2016---scary as to what else the court will do in that situation!!!

MR said...

I would have thought that humble Pope Francis the humble (who's very humble, in case you haven't heard) would jump at the chance to make a direct apology, but apparently he hasn't.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Mommy blogs are afire with reaction to the Pope's comments about being "like rabbits." There are very many young women who blog for support of their Catholic beliefs and openness to life; to share their challenges and joys, and even to complain about how society treats them. And the Pope's comments have cut them to the quick, because they get loads of opposition from all of society.
One blogger even mentioned if she ever is blessed with a fifth pregnancy, she now dreads announcing it since she expects she will hear, 'haven't you heard, the Pope said you shouldn't be breeding like rabbits.'

The Pope, with that one unfortunate term, has caused many more severe crosses for many young Catholics who already are living heroic virtue in not using birth control, in practicing NFP, and always remaining open to life. The last thing they needed was for the head of the Church to imply they are in the wrong.

I cannot imagine what some of these people will now face from doctors and other pregnancy related health care providers, not to mention non-supportive family members, who will say, 'even the Pope says you need not do this.'

I don't believe his retraction is going to help much. The damage is already done. It's such a shame.

It's hard to be the light of the world when the Pope is using a fire hose to douse the flame.

I don't know if it's possible, but it would be very good if priests would do some damage control in their homilies this Sunday, clarifying the Pope's remarks to emphasize the responsibility of parenthood and goodness of it.

Anonymous said...

Did you actually read the entirety of the Pope's comments, not just the snippets the mainstream media chose to take out of context? When talking about the 3 children, he did not mean that as a limit, but, in response to those who bring up overpopulation, he said that we need 3 children to support a stable population. When he mentioned "breed like rabbits," he was defending critics of the Catholic church who believe that this is what we are instructed to do. That really wasn't his phrase, but the phrase of the critics.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 7:49:
I did read his comments. And so did many of those Catholic Mommy bloggers. The issue is that the nuance of what the Pope actually said or really meant is lost on most people, and especially the MSM and even lukewarm Catholics. What was said ("Some think that -- excuse the word -- that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No.") and even NOT said (breed like rabbits) doesn't matter much at this point. BUT, you can see for yourself the message out there. Fr. McDonald pointed out the kind of article that appeared on NCR. That is what I am commenting on, and I'm sad for those most faithful of Catholics who are now wounded and those who will be wounded by it in the future. Most unfortunate.

It's just really unfortunate.

George said...

The Holy Father to his credit did mention the situation in Europe (Italy specifically), where women are not having sufficient numbers of children to meet the necessary population replacement level. At one time Catholics were known for having large familes. If, as Pope Francis was alluding to, they were instructed to "breed like rabbits"( that disdainful comment coming from many of our critics) most Catholics today apparently did not get that memo. God Bless those who depite the countervailing opposing social philosophy went ahead and had large families anyway.

WSquared said...

I didn't find the "rabbits" thing all that offensive, actually, and there are times when I wonder if some people are just looking for things to be offended at.

Kevin, there was just no reason at all to rant. You and your wife were being responsible as well as generous; surely you realize that.

And for the record, I am on board with the Church's teaching on contraception and NFP, and I think that big families are a blessing.

For one, NFP isn't exclusively about limiting the size of one's family. You can also use it to determine optimum times for conception. It also promotes the self-control that any and all marriages need, and it gives God an "in" when it comes to the grace needed for discernment. I'd like to see the pill do any of that.

I don't think that Pope Francis is saying that big family is inherently irresponsible, but there are indeed irresponsible ways of getting there. You can in fact have a big family out of prudent generosity. A baby showing up despite what you intend isn't a bad thing at all: with NFP, you always knew it was a possibility. But you can also conceive a large family out of lust, selfishness, and a lack of self-control, just as you can conceive a small one that way (in the latter, you would simply contracept). Lust, selfishness, and a lack of self-control weighs gravely on any family and on any marriage, regardless of family size.

Anyone who has been hanging around Catholic blogs for long enough is also aware that certain Catholics and secularists seem to have the idea that Catholics are obligated to have as many children as humanly possible. The Church teaches no such thing, and it's a good thing to hear it from the Pope, since we all know that way too many Catholics are too lazy to read anything while often assuming the worst about what the Church does and doesn't teach. We also know enough Catholics who think that every Catholic family that isn't as big as theirs "isn't really Catholic," "isn't open to life," and "isn't as holy" as theirs. their reasoning, the Holy Family and the Ratzinger family aren't "truly Catholic," "aren't open to life," and "aren't as holy." It's one thing to feel hurt by commonly rude and stupid comments about "breeders" and "what causes that," but using understandable defensiveness is never a reason to mandate what the Church does not.

I see a lot of needless comparison of both blessings and crosses among Catholics, and what can get disturbing are certain received narratives that are pervasive among Catholics, online and off, where only certain kinds of blessings and crosses "count" or "matter."

Why is it so difficult to understand that the Church can be in favor of large families while also not teaching that each and every Catholic is obligated to have child after child after child? This approach actually frees Catholics up to simply accept what God gives them-- be it many children, fewer children, or even no children-- without feeling the need to see ourselves as the only Catholics who are faithful and doing things right.

Daniel said...

Excellent comments, WSquared. Despite the prevailing narrative in some corners, every big Catholic family is not greater, happier, holier or raised better than yours. Sometimes that fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth kid in 10 years can be overlooked, forgotten, ignored. Especially if (as often happens), the parents of eight-plus kids also decide they're competent to home-school them. Lord save us.

Anonymous said...

It seems almost inconsistent with the new world/earth oriented liberalism in the Church to even mention "population replacement", especially when considering Europe, or Italy, specifically. Progressive minded globalism make no distinctions as to ethnicity, national origin, education, gender or religion. Human migration is lauded with no restrictions, borders are bad. They see it as better to have throngs of third world people replace Europeans, living without modern electric demands, more simply, more organically, in small homes, without the complexity of high carbon economies.
That is where it leads. You can't really have it both ways. Who can judge? Surely not the Pope!
The population is getting replaced, though not by Catholics or Christians of any kind. Even Mormons have been given a pass on having endless little gumballs from outer space. The leaders think an educated woman's salary furthers church goals better than lots of kids.
We had lots of kids because I saw the despair of my closed loop world very early and it looked like we would be able to stay married and support our family. Whether it was due to a laudable faith in God or not, some things are worth risking one's short life for. Now we have an unbelievable treasure of adult children and many grandchildren, while we watch our semi childless friends acting like teenagers.

George said...

WSquared: If you have encountered what you say below that indeed is unfortunate and uncharitable. From my experience it is the other way around.

"We also know enough Catholics who think that every Catholic family that isn't as big as theirs 'isn't really Catholic,' 'isn't open to life,' and "isn't as holy' as theirs. their reasoning, the Holy Family and the Ratzinger family aren't 'truly Catholic,' 'aren't open to life,' and "aren't as holy."

There are couples out there who have tried to have children but for some reason or another could. One of them I know of did adopt.

I do know of a woman who was castigated by some for being a stay at home mom instead of having a career.

MR said...

Apparently he does regret it:

George said...

In my previous comment it should have read in part:

There are couples out there who have tried to have children but for some reason or another could NOT.

Anonymous said...


I felt the sting of the rabbit comment immediately, as if I had been humiliated in public by my own husband, who is my cover. Striped naked and exposed to the derision and contempt of the modern world, which we had already endured alone for three decades since our fourth child.

The Pope is our cover. But "He's just not that into us." Shucks.

It reminds me how I feel about our American president, who seems to care more about pleasing the world than doing what he was hired to do, protect his own people first.

The expression "between a rock and a hard place" came to me today, thinking about this, seeing that our leader is obviously torn and perhaps a bit star struck by his own celebrity. The "World" is a hard place.

About decided to just go back to church, after four years away BECAUSE the Pope is an idiot and someone sane has to be there. Hah. I won't say a word.