Pope Francis says Catholics don't have to breed 'like rabbits' and should instead practice 'responsible parenting'.
Catholics are not required to procreate "like rabbits," Pope Francis says, tackling family planning issues days after reiterating the Catholic Church's opposition to artificial contraceptives.
"Some people believe that to be good Catholics, we need to be like rabbits," the Pope said in a press conference on the plane en route from the Philippines back to Rome.
The pontiff instead said pointed to the principle of "responsible parenting. That is the key," he said.
Catholics are free to use natural birth control methods, but not condoms or other artificial contraceptives, he told Italian news agency ANSA.
During his Philippines pilgrimage on Friday, the Pope hailed "the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death," and praised his predecessor Paul VI for confirming in 1968 the church's opposition to abortion and artificial birth control.
His comments, taken together with his defence of the church's ban on artificial contraception during the trip, signal that he is increasingly showing his more conservative bent.
On the trip, the Pope gave his strongest defence yet of the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which enshrined the church's opposition to artificial birth control.
He warned against "insidious attacks" against the family - a reference to gay marriage proposals - echoing language often used by overwhelmingly conservative US bishops.
The Pope insisted that "openness to life is a condition of the sacrament of matrimony."