Pope Francis, Breeding Bunnies and Ideological Colonization

Pope Francis confounds me. How can a man who is so eloquent and obviously heartfelt when he talks about global poverty and injustice and income inequality start spouting such a collection of reheated papal clichés and utter nonsense when he starts talking about women and sex?

His just-concluded trip to the Philippines was a virtual festival of such comments, some planned and some obviously off-the-cuff–and some even directly contradictory–but most just downright confounding.

In one of the impromptu inflight press conferences for which he has become famous, Francis told reporters in one breath that “[s]ome think that … in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits” but that Catholics should practice “responsible parenthood.”

Some saw this as a breath of fresh air or a major breakthrough for the Vatican. But who in the twenty-first century thinks Catholics “breed like rabbits”? That’s an offensive stereotype of Catholics that went out of date in the 1950s, when most Catholic women got on board with contraception—which the Catholic Church bans.

And he made his comments after saying Catholics shouldn’t use birth control and while criticizing a woman who was pregnant for the eighth time and facing a cesarean section: “Does she want to leave the seven orphans?,” he said, adding, “That is an irresponsibility.”

So she’s irresponsible for getting pregnant eight times because she not using the contraception that you say she can’t use? But Francis has an answer for that:

God gives you methods 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. I know so many, many licit ways that have helped this.

So many licit ways? How many ways are there to say natural family planning? Francis doesn’t seem to have the foggiest notion that the reason most people don’t use natural family planning is that it’s not reliable. It’s how you end up pregnant eight times.

And for anyone who thinks that it’s a big breakthrough for the pope to promote “responsible parenthood,” here’s Pope Paul VI in Humanae Vitae:

Married love, therefore, requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood, which today, rightly enough, is much insisted upon, but which at the same time should be rightly understood. Thus, we do well to consider responsible parenthood in the light of its varied legitimate and interrelated aspects. …With regard to physical, economic, psychological and social conditions, responsible parenthood is exercised by those who prudently and generously decide to have more children, and by those who, for serious reasons and with due respect to moral precepts, decide not to have additional children for either a certain or an indefinite period of time.

But the zingers don’t end there. Francis used his trip to the Philippines to warn Catholics about the dangers of the “ideological colonization of the family,” especially of western aid agencies forcing their values on the pure, unsuspecting Catholics of the developing world by imparting a “lack of openness to life,” which is code for abortion and contraception.

In case this sounds familiar, it was a favorite theme of Pope John Paul II, who blasted efforts to expand access to family planning for women in the developing world as “contraceptive imperialism.” During the run-up to the historic 1994 Cairo Conference on Population and Development, which John Paul bitterly objected to for its emphasis on reproductive health care, all the Catholic cardinals met at the Vatican to denounce the conference as “cultural imperialism”:

Neither the Cairo conference nor any other forum should lend itself to cultural imperialism or to ideologies that isolate the human person in a self-enclosed universe wherein abortion on demand, sexual promiscuity and distorted notions of the family are proclaimed as human rights or proposed as ideals for the young.

The irony here is that the Philippines recently liberalized access to contraception that had been blocked by the Catholic bishops of the country in concert with the Aquino administration for more than a decade. The Reproductive Health law that restored government-financed family planning services was popularly supported by Filipinos but stymied for years by the politically powerful Catholic bishops. Who exactly was doing the colonizing here?

But the bigger irony is that in almost the same breath, Francis demanded greater attention to women’s voices in the church:

Women have a lot of things to say to us in today’s society. Sometimes we’re too chauvinistic, and we don’t allow room for women. Women are capable of seeing things from a different angle than men.

Yeah, like from the angle of people who have the babies. Women do have a lot of things to say in today’s society–like they want to use birth control to plan their families responsibly. To bad Pope Francis can’t hear them.

 

53 Comments

  • joerogers67@gmail.com' joeyj1220 says:

    I think those of us who are progressive simply have this desire to want Francis to be someone he is not. I think it’s time to give it up

  • tojby_2000@yahoo.com' apotropoxy says:

    “Francis confounds me. ”
    ________________

    Not me. He is a transitional figure who is vaguely aware of social injustice toward women but fully engaged in the macroeconomic aspects of it. The RCC has a long history of providing lip-service to the Sermon on the Mount idealism but almost none to equal rights. The reproduction thing is MUCH harder for them.
    (Expect a Vatican ll style rollback when he joins the Church Triumphant.)

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    I think Francis and everyone else’s understands that some women want to engage in sex at will and divorce the reality of sex and procreation which are intimately tied together.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Yes just like you try to recreate God in your image and fail, the same will happen with Francis.

  • msweas@gmail.com' Megan Sweas says:

    “Who exactly was doing the colonizing here?”

    Exactly my thought when I heard what he said.

    When
    I asked a nun working in the slums of Nairobi about USAID and contraception, she said something like “you don’t think that people are
    having those conversations here?” It’s not up to the pope or USAID to
    make those decisions for people.

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    This is the most shocking thing I have ever heard from a pope in my lifetime. It embodies the darkest ignorance and most brutal misogyny of the Catholic Church. If anyone questions whether the Church has totally forsaken half the world’s population, the Pope has just attacked a mother for being pregnant. Not just any mother, but a medically-imperiled mother. Not the father, not the institution that threatened her with eternal torture for avoiding pregnancy. THE MOTHER, the one whose blood is being spilled, and whose life is in danger. Blame her, who has been commanded to put her life in danger, and obeyed. Who has been raised with one life-defining, all-pervading image of the value and potential of Catholic womanhood: of a Mother whose whole life, legend, and eternal glorification revolves around a story of her consenting to pregnancy. Holy Blessed Mother, Untier of Knots. All I have is profanity.

  • Bluerose61@outlook.com' Joan59 says:

    Bad women. Why don’t their men make them behave?
    Of course everybody knows women are the instigators and entice men into “sex at will”. No man would EVER “divorce the reality of sex and procreation.”
    You know, you lot will never convince anybody that your arguments have any credibility whatsoever because you are so completely misogynistic.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    I said some women. Are you identifying with them?

  • maryamueller@gmail.com' HeilMary1 says:

    One shouldn’t be surprised by the brazen contradictions — Pope Frankie praised Paul VI who knowingly funded Nazi Ustasha death camps in Croatia during WWII. The then cardinal praised Ustasha leader Ante Pavelic who bragged about gutting “heretic” pregnant Serbs and pulling out and executing their “heretic” fetuses too! Afterwards, “Saint” Pius XII had the nerve to praise Pavelic for “fighting abortion” (by mutilating and exterminating nearly a million non-Catholic Christians)!

  • maryamueller@gmail.com' HeilMary1 says:

    Are you identifying with the holy mother-killing womb traffickers who rape millions of neglected force-birthed kids? Childbirth has a zillion gruesome, deadly commonplace complications, and pompous misogynistic Catholic men are the first to cheat on and abandon their obstetric bladder- and bowel-incontinent brood mares. If Goddess disapproved of contraception, etc., she wouldn’t have peppered the earth with hundreds of abortifacients like coffee, tea, and the miracle wine Jesus H. Christ served to that “slut of sluts” the Cana bride!

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Go to the nearest mental health clinic immediately.

  • zinealine@gmail.com' cranefly says:

    Like the woman the pope was talking about, who was PREGNANT?

  • maryamueller@gmail.com' HeilMary1 says:

    Your misogyny is proof of your OWN mental illness. I am a reality-based survivor of horrific Catholic abuse. Stay crazy if it makes you feel “holy.”

  • maryamueller@gmail.com' HeilMary1 says:

    The pope probably meant she should send her hubby to hookers while she practiced abstinence for the next several years — like my parents.

  • msprague2002@yahoo.ca' MarkS2002 says:

    Personally, I was encouraged by the rabbit comparison. It seems to me that this is the first time that any Pope has dared to uncover these contradictions. I’m sure it will take some time before we see the Pope on TV, touting the benefits of one form of birth control over another; but surely there are sufficient alternative churches available to allow the shunning of Holy Mother Church until she comes around. It may only be incremental; but at least it is a baby step forward into the 20th century.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Can you be more specific about what kind of abuse? Get the help you obviously still need desperately.

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    This is not a sentence.

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    When did Joey do this?

  • learnclub@aol.com' SisterLea says:

    Cognitive dissonance is showing up at the top levels of hierarchy. That’s good even though it gives mixed messages to the Church at large!

    The mixed messages are the result of shifting paradigms. The Pre-Vatican II Roman hierarchical command way of doing things doesn’t fit so well with the Post-Vatican II cultural shift in values like responsibility, authority, women, Gays, etc.

    Uncomfortable as they are, shifting paradigms pave the way for change

  • maryamueller@gmail.com' HeilMary1 says:

    You’re the one needing help because you defend abusive cult nonsense.

  • joerogers67@gmail.com' joeyj1220 says:

  • joerogers67@gmail.com' joeyj1220 says:

    you really are a vile human being

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Fools respond with foolishness. Well done!

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    God IS created in our image. That’s why every different culture has different gods. Gods always agree with their creators, and the long-lived Hebrew/Christian/Islamic one is no exception.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    What an embarssingly ignorant view.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Not nearly as ignorant as adhering to a doctrine that has no real evidence to indicate that it is based on fact.

    Frank, no matter how you slice it, people need myths. Things that are bigger than life. Whether it’s a god or Superman or The Force. Gods are invented to reinforce cultural norms and keep people in line. Gods always agree with the priests/prophets that invent them. If there was really only one “true” god, why in the world would there be so many different gods, now and throughout history? Why is it that “God is on my side” always? When two sides disagree violently, they still each claim “God’s favor”. It doesn’t make any sense at all.

    The Flying Spaghetti Monster started as a prank, but the idea caught on, because at some level, a lot of us understand what it means. That gods can be created any time, by anyone. And one is as valid as the next, and no more outrageous.

    IF there is a divine being, which I do not rule out, it is a being far beyond our comprehension, and, therefore, we make crummy paper-mache images of it – images that validate our own biases. I find spirituality in Nature, and have no need of created gods.

    I used to be a fundy Xtian, Frank. Then I started thinking. I have given a lot more thought to the concepts of “god” than you could imagine. The more I actually thought, the less sense it all made, and finally I had a spiritual experience that kind of put everything in place. I will always be spiritual, but never again religious.

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    In any case, that rabbit is super cute.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Yes people do need myths. Until they mature and realize they need God instead.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Each culture regards their own god(s) as the real one(s). Other cultures’ gods are “myths”. LOL. I would like you to explain to me why you think your god is better than, say, Ganesh or Thor. They all serve the same purpose.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    My God exists. Wake up!

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Okay, Frank. PROVE it. You cannot. Anymore than the followers of Ganesh or Thor can. God is a BELIEF, and your belief is no more valid than the belief of any other believer.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    I don’t have to. God already has. Wake up!

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    Oh, really? And I suppose the proof is the Bible? What about, then, the Vedic literature? The only actual evidence of a possible intelligent creator is Nature itself, and the mathematical precision and patterns. But the jury is out on that one. And what would be the actual nature of Nature’s God? (You know, the one the Deists who penned the Declaration referred to.)

    You know, Frank, if you are comfortable in your beliefs about God, Jesus, Mary, and all the saints, then have at it. But I am not. And in a truly egalitarian, just society, my viewpoint is as valid as yours.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Yes you are welcome to be a fool if you choose.

  • cgoslingpbc@aol.com' cgosling says:

    Finally Catholics have an informed Pope with a conscience. If he goes any further, he will have an insurrection on his hands.

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    Father Junipera Serra imposed Christianity on early California giving natives no choice in the matter. He did incalculable damage to a whole culture. Thousands upon thousands of the First People died from filthy Spanish priests inflicting corporal punishment and death upon them…in their “need for a Spanish god.” Square that circle.

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    I prefer Gia.

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    Frank is not receptive to anything other than what HE deems to be correct. Every conversation is undertaken with the premise that his way is truest and to question is heresy. I try but it’s hard to get him or her to reach out the bubble.

  • phatkhat@centurylink.net' phatkhat says:

    You didn’t address my point. Which is: HOW does God “prove” himself? I think you are going to get into circular reasoning, here…

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    I think you always choose to be foolish. So sad.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    You need professional help.

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    Once again you refuse to accept the predatory brutality of your Christian brethren… and like a true religious narcissist you fault others or claim them to be subservient.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    See above and run to it.

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    Nah, chasing unseen entities will definitely signify more a dangerous malady than narcissism. A malady that has filled the earth with the bodies of the innocent. Lot of dead children in this country because their parents suffered from the same narcissism.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    You deserve pity.

  • Lilmo2nd@aol.com' NavyBlues05 says:

    That’s also associated with classic narcissism as it serves no purpose except to inflate self worth.

  • SWhaption6548@gustr.com' Frank6548 says:

    Believe me you only make me sad. You deflate my hope in some humanity and their refusal to see or accept the truth.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    I was going to say as much myself. I want to boop its little nose.

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    Has Frank finally gotten the boot???

  • rtoltschin@gmail.com' RexTIII says:

    He’s lost me now, punching someone over an insult … Ridiculous in the first place, and his entire ‘woman / man’ = marriage irrelevant. The history and defining of what marriage is – speaks for it’s truthful self, and it’s not remotely similar to what’s being touted as ‘a definition’ in todays noise.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    I believe so, yes … and long past time.

  • asmorrell@gmail.com' Andre M says:

    Wow! I wonder what the straw was that broke the camel’s back.

  • Emyth@mindspring.com' Emyth says:

    For what it is worth, the censorship is destructive…

    Destructive of MEANING…
    Destructive of COMMUNITY…
    Destructive of possible MORAL EXEMPLARS… (examples of constructive ways of dealing with egregious insult…trolls…)
    Destructive of TRUTH…

    God doesn’t censor…People censor…

    I suggest that truly Loving, Kind, Thoughtful and Truth valuing community would find some other way than the Blotting Out of offensive comments that doesn’t do FURTHER VIOLENCE to the Social Fabric…

    These are Computers afterall… They can do amazing things… Find a way to Flag trolls and quarantine them and their comments in a “Troll Preserve” … As long as they act trollishly, they they will be identified and treated as such… But a way back into full communion ought to be allowed…and provided for…

    Anything other than that is Violent and could be improved upon…

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