Pope Francis often delivers impromptu remarks, some more well-received than others.
In response to a query this week from a reporter aboard the papal plane about the connection between poverty and overpopulation in the Philippines, the pope replied that Catholics have no obligation to breed "like rabbits."
While some Catholics were left smiling by the quip, others who want the Church to permit birth control were not amused, The New York Times
"But God gives you methods to be responsible," Francis said. "Some think that, excuse me if I use that word, that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood."
The 77-year-old pontiff's reference was to practicing natural family planning, which includes abstinence, and avoiding sexual relations when the woman is most fertile.
Jokesters had a field day with the rabbit remark.
Some in the Twittersphere advised Catholics to "hop to it." An Italian newspaper commentator for La Stampa, referring to the pope as "Father Rabbit," said that his observation would go down in history as the "Sermon of the Rabbit," the Times reported.
The New York Post
headlined: "Pope splits hares." CNN
led with, "The Pope said what?!? More stunners from Francis."
But some liberal Catholics took offense. Catholics for Choice declared it found the remark "particularly troubling because of the Catholic hierarchy's continued global war on birth control and reproductive choice," the Times reported.
The German Rabbit Breeders Association let it be known that rabbits do not have an unbridled sex drive, and that their randy reputation applied only to rabbits living in the wild.
The group also used the opportunity to criticize the Church's teaching on birth control, The Telegraph
Some conservative-leaning Catholics were disappointed
by the implied criticism of large families —the pope cited experts as saying three children seemed about right. Other traditionalists worried that the pope had inadvertently played into the hands of defamers who disparage their large families, the Religious News Service
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