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Doctor defends Pope: Being good Catholics not dependent on number of children

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MANILA, Jan. 22, 2015—Reacting to what turned out to be yet another “papal misquote” involving rabbits, a Filipino physician comes to Pope Francis’ defence, pointing out that what the Holy Father really meant was only a reiteration of what the Catholic Church has been teaching for ages—that parents must be responsible for every child they bring into the world—adding that being a good Catholic is not measured by one’s number of offspring.

“Pope Francis impels us to stop the misconception that being a ‘good Catholic,’ being pro-life means having many offspring. There are millions of ‘good Catholics’ with one to three children, as there are millions of ‘good Catholics’ with four or more children,” shared Dr. Ryan Borja Capitulo, an OB-GYN specialist.

‘Every child a gift’

The doctor made this statement in a bid to correct some reports circulated by mainstream media which have misrepresented the Argentine pontiff’s actual view on parenthood, having him as telling Catholics, “Don’t breed like rabbits,” which he never said.

According to him, responsible parenthood is not dependent on the number of children a couple has.

Pope Francis takes time to bless a baby girl during his weekly general audience in the Paul VI hall at the Vatican, Jan. 21, 2015. (Photo: Roy Lagarde)

“I consider myself an intelligent person and I understand perfectly what the Pope is saying in his inflight press conference: All parents must be responsible for their children! All parents must provide love, support, understanding, acceptance, material needs to their children! All parents must ‘see a treasure in every child’,” he stressed.

A member of Filipinos for Life, Capitulo shared he felt alluded to when the Holy Father said there are experts on this matter, and that he knows “so many, many ways out there that are licit,” referring to natural family planning (NFP).

“I am an OB-GYN specialist and I care for pregnant women, not rabbits!” Capitulo declared emphatically, noting that it is possible to space one’s children using natural, effective methods.

Not like rabbits at all

“Yes, I am an ‘expert on this matter’! In my clinical practice, I make time to patiently teach the natural family planning methods to my patients, ‘ways that are licit’ and acceptable to the Church. While it is much easier and faster to prescribe artificial contraceptives, I have never compromised my faith even in my profession,” he explained.

On a more personal note, Capitulo shared his own experience of rabbits to stress his points:

“…We have a pair of rabbits in the house, a buck and a doe. Every time the female rabbit (doe) gets pregnant and gives birth, she eats all of her kittens (baby rabbits). Horrible! We are most certainly not like these rabbits!” Capitulo added.

An unofficial translation of the papal statement reads: “Some think that — excuse the language — that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits. No. Responsible parenthood. This is clear and that is why in the Church there are marriage groups, there are experts in this matter, there are pastors, one can search; and I know so many ways that are licit and that have helped this.”

For the full, unofficial transcript of the inflight press conference held on Jan. 19, following Pope Francis’ five-day apostolic trip to the Philippines, visit americamagazine.org/content/dispatches/full-transcript-popes-press-conference-flight-manila. (Raymond A. Sebastián/CBCP News)


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