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Francis: Catholics Needn’t ‘Breed Like Rabbits’

FILE - Pope Francis says the Catholic Church promotes 'responsible parenthood and natural methods of birth control.'

Pope Francis says that just because the Catholic Church bans artificial contraceptives, it does not mean Catholics have to "breed like rabbits."

Flying back to Rome Monday from his weeklong visit to Asia, Francis, in an airborne news conference, said the church promotes "responsible parenthood and natural methods of birth control."

He spoke of meeting a woman in Manila who is pregnant with her eighth child after giving birth seven times by Caesarian section. That, he said, was "irresponsible parenting."

But the pontiff objected to what he called "ideological colonization" of the family and developing world. It’s wrong to impose progressive, Western notions about birth control and gay rights, especially as a precondition of development aid, the Associated Press reported Francis as saying.

Calls for ‘prudent’ expression

The pope also expanded on his recent remarks about freedom of expression following Islamist extremists’ deadly January 7 attacks on Charlie Hebdo, a Paris satirical newsmagazine that has caricatured religious figures including the Islamic religion’s Prophet Muhammad.

In the face of perceived insults, "in theory, we should say what is said in the Bible: that we should turn the other cheek. In theory, we can say that we have freedom to express ourselves," Francis said, according to Reuters. But, he explained, some provocative expressions "risk receiving a reaction that isn’t correct."

"Freedom of expression must take into consideration human reality and, therefore, I say it must be prudent," he concluded.

Francis said he has tentative plans to travel to Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay, the Central African Republic and Uganda later this year.

Vatican officials also have said Francis in September will visit three U.S. cities: Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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