Pope Francis backpedals after ‘Catholics breeding like rabbits’ comment

Pope Francis today sought to clarify his remark that Catholics should not breed “like rabbits”. Economic injustice – not large families – was the real cause of poverty, he said during his weekly address. Francis had made the rabbit comment during a news conference aboard the plane returning from a week-long Asia trip on Monday while speaking about birth control. His unusually frank language raised eyebrows, particularly on social media, where some commentators said it was offensive.

I have heard it said that families with many children and the birth of many children are the among the causes of poverty. I think that is a simplistic opinion.

Pope Francis, speaking at his weekly general audience at the Vatican on Wednesday

The economic system, which had placed money at its centre and created a “throw-away culture”, was the main cause of poverty, not large families, he said. During the news conference on the plane, the leader of the 1.2-billion-strong Roman Catholic Church restated its ban on artificial birth control, adding there were “many ways that are allowed” to practise natural family planning.