By Sarah Mac Donald - 20 January, 2015
Giving his customary inflight press conference on Monday on the return flight from Manila to Rome, Pope Francis said parents may have a responsibility to limit the number of their children.
In his comments, the Pope reaffirmed Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae saying its ban on contraception was aimed at Neo-Malthusianism which claimed that exponential global population growth would lead to an irreversible world food crisis.
However, the Pope also recounted the story of a woman he met in a parish in Rome several months ago who had given birth to seven children via Caesarean section and was pregnant with an eighth.
Pope Francis asked, “Does she want to leave the seven orphans?” He added, “This is to tempt God. That is an irresponsibility.”
He urged Catholics to discuss “responsible parenthood.”
“God gives you methods to be responsible,” he continued. “Some think that – excuse the word – in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No.”
“This is clear and that is why in the church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors,” Pope Francis said.
He continued, “I know so many, many licit ways that have helped this.”
Asked about his comment on the “ideological colonisation” of marriage, the Pope said he had heard concerns from African bishops during October’s Synod, who said they often face difficult choices when presented with conditions of acceptance on much needed financial aid.
Speaking about the role of women in the Church, Pope Francis said women bring new perspectives to church communities.
“When I say it is important that women be held in higher consideration in the church, it’s not just to give them a function as the secretary of a dicastery,” he said.
“But this can be OK,” he added appearing to affirm the possibility of women taking such roles at some stage in the future.
However, he added, “No, it’s so that they may tell us how they feel and view reality, because women view things from a different richness, a larger one.”
The Pope also revealed that he will visit Philadelphia, New York, and Washington during his visit to the US in September. During his time there he will also canonise Franciscan Fr Junipero Serra.
The Pope has been invited to address a joint session of US Congress during his visit, during which he will also attend the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia from 22-27 September.
He may also address the UN in New York.
Pope Francis also suggested that he will also visit three Latin American countries later this year – Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay and two African countries – the Central African Republic and Uganda.