In a recent op-ed in the New York Times, Frank Bruni writes about what the confessors at his mother’s Catholic church would tell her about birth control.
“’Forgive me, Father,’ she’d say time and again, in church after church, to confessor after confessor. ‘I use contraception.’”
“She never met a priest who didn’t respond with some version of the following, and I’m paraphrasing…
“’Of course you do. You’re sane. Ignore Rome. Forget about the pope. There’s La-La Land, and then there’s the real world, in which you are clearly living. Say three Hail Marys because it can never hurt, and be on your way.’”
On the papal airplane, en route from the Philippines back to Italy, the pope reflected on the relationship between third-world poverty and extra-large families.
He told reporters that Catholics needn’t feel compelled to breed “like rabbits.”
Rev. James Keenan, a moral theologian at Boston College, said “He’s wildly practical.”
“Keenan stated that while he didn’t hear, in the pope’s reference to rabbits, any clear challenge to traditional teaching, he heard a change in emphasis…
“I don’t remember, ever, a pope saying to Catholics that they should be mindful of how many children they’re having,” states Keenan, adding that Francis’s statement was significant for that reason. “Did he intend it to be? I have no idea. When he says things, you don’t know if they’re off the cuff or not, because he’s so out there. He’s exciting that way.”
Bruni points out that at sometimes the pope sounds traditional, “like any old pope,” but at other times the pope sounds like the parish priests encountered by his mother.