After this colorful metaphor, an equally colorful simile from Pope Francis: While the pontiff firmly upholds church teaching banning contraception, he today said that Catholics don't have to breed "like rabbits" and should instead practice "responsible parenting." Speaking to reporters en route home from the Philippines, he cited the case of a woman he met who was pregnant with her eighth child after seven Cesarean sections. "That is an irresponsibility!" he said. The woman might argue that she should trust in God. "But God gives you methods to be responsible." He said there are many "licit" ways of regulating births that are approved by the church, an apparent reference to the Natural Family Planning method of monitoring a woman's cycle to avoid intercourse when she is ovulating.
But he said most importantly, no outside institution should impose its views on regulating family size, blasting what he called the "ideological colonization" of the developing world. During the Vatican's recent meeting on the family, African bishops denounced how aid groups and lending institutions often condition their assistance on a country's compliance with their ideals: allowing health care workers to distribute condoms, or withdrawing assistance if legislation discriminating against gays is passed. His comments, taken together with his defense of the Catholic Church's ban on artificial contraception during the trip, signal that he is increasingly showing his more conservative bent, which has largely been ignored by public opinion or obscured by a media narrative that has tended to highlight his populist persona. (Read more Pope Francis stories.)