Photo grabbed from Socrates B. Villegas' Facebook page.

THE HEAD of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has slammed another apparent attempt to twist Pope Francis’ statements, this time the Holy Father’s remarks on responsible parenthood that were made to appear to have contradicted official teaching.

In a Facebook post on Jan. 20, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, CBCP president, said the Pope never said Catholics were breeding “like rabbits.”

“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 the simile, he knew that it was harsh and so said ‘excuse the expression’ — but it was apt and it brought home the point,” Villegas said.

Villegas said Pope Francis was just reaffirming the Church’s stance on responsible parenthood, explaining that it is a Catholic obligation by both parents to plan births rationally. The “come what may” attitude is not correct, he added.

“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,” Villegas said.

In the flight back to Rome after a record-breaking visit to the Philippines last Jan. 19, Pope Francis remained firm on the Church’s stance versus artificial birth control, and pointed out that there were Church-approved ways (natural family planning methods) to space births. The Pope had also referred several times to Humanae Vitae, the 1968 encyclical of Blessed Paul VI that reiterated Church teaching against artificial birth control.

“Some think that—excuse the language—that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits,” Pope Francis said. “God gives you means to be responsible. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search, and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this,” he said.

In Rome, Pope Francis praised large families during his Wednesday general audience, and said blaming many children as the cause of poverty was a “simplistic opinion.”

“I can say that the main cause of poverty is an economic system that excludes and creates the throwaway culture in which we live. It is necessary to protect families which face various threats, so that they can bear witness to the beauty of the family in God’s plan,” he said. Angeli Mae S. Cantillana


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