Pope Francis got lots of attention by suggesting that Catholics shouldn’t breed like rabbits. Makes for a great headline, huh?
But the reality of the comment was a bit more complicated. The media immediately assumed that he was saying that Catholics shouldn’t have lots and lots of children; everyone knows rabbits are amazingly prolific.
Rabbits also will mate at the drop of a hat with any rabbit of the opposite gender. They aren’t on the list of animals that mate for life (unfortunately, humans are struggling to qualify for the list, too).
Black vultures mate for life. Wolves mate for life. French angelfish mate for life, which is more than can be said of many French humans. Bald eagles mate for life, which makes me glad that at least one symbol of America retains an ounce of respectability.
By asking Catholics not to breed like rabbits, the Pope is suggesting more than simply not having a lot of children. In fact, I don’t think it is a numbers game; it is about love, responsibility, chastity and (this is scary to many) discipline.
Like Spider said, with great power comes great responsibility. And the power to create a human life needs better management than a rabbit’s sex-driven brain could provide. And within Catholic teaching, that means a couple can make a decision NOT to have sexual relations because they can’t afford to care for another child or they carry a genetic flaw or they already have too much in their lives to handle. But if they choose to have sexual relations, they accept the possibility that God will choose them to bring a new life into the world.
Despite all efforts to make this complicated, it really is quite simple (as opposed to being always easy). It is well beyond the feeble mind of a rabbit, but not a Catholic.