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As Pope Francis was returning to Rome from the Philippines last month, he told journalists about a woman who had had seven children by caesarean section and was now pregnant again. This was, he said, “tempting God.” He asked her if she wanted to leave seven orphans. Catholics have approved ways of regulating births, he continued, and should practice “responsible parenthood” rather than breeding “like rabbits.”

Francis’ “rabbit” comment was widely covered in the media, but fewer reported that he had also said that no outside institution should impose its views about regulating family size on the developing world. “Every people,” he insisted, should be able to maintain its identity without being “ideologically colonized.”

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