On the flight back from Manila yesterday (19 Jan, 2015), Pope Francis made some comments about responsible parenthood. First, he ‘reaffirmed his rejection of population-control programs as an example of ideological colonization and his praise of Blessed Paul VI for defending Catholic teaching against contraception.’ 
He then went on criticise a women who was pregnant for the eighth time having already produced seven children by caesarean section, saying ‘Does she want to leave seven orphans? This is tempting God.’  (If God is so tempted, why did he let the woman become pregnant again in the first place?)
Then came the bombshell: ‘But God gives you methods to be responsible. Some think that, excuse me if I use that word, that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood.’ 
I have no doubt that opinion writers the world over will now ponder ad infinitum upon this last comment. Is the Pope finally endorsing birth control by contraception as a way of limiting the number of children procreated by a man and woman? I am also sure that the opinions will be split unevenly: from the majority who will say ‘no, he’s just stressing the use of natural rhythm techniques’ to the minority who will say ’yes, and not before time.’
I’ve written elsewhere [3, 4] about my attitude towards the Roman Catholics’ opposition to birth control. I don’t understand how a religion that is followed by 1.7 billion people (around 17% of the current world’s population) can dictate birth control practices. It seems to me that the Roman Catholic Church forbids sexual intercourse for pleasure or at least considerably dampens the opportunity to engage in and enjoy spontaneous sex – ‘Not tonight dear; I’m in the blue zone, not the green zone’.  The church only endorses sexual intercourse for procreation and yet I would suggest that at least ninety-nine times out of a hundred, probably more, people have intercourse because of the pleasure it brings them rather than to make a baby. The church does not appear to understand this. Maybe this is the result of an organisation that dictates that its priesthood remain celibate – another unnatural state for a human being and which, as we have seen, fosters paedophiliac behaviour.
One day, when the world’s population has outgrown its resources, the Roman Catholic Church will realise, and maybe apologise, for a teaching that has contributed significantly to the population explosion.
 Ben Bennetts, The Religion Business: Cashing in on God, Atheos Books, 2012
 Ben Bennetts, Fingers to the Keyboard, Atheos Books, 2014 (Article about Baroness Warsi’s visit to Pope Benedict XVI in 2012)