January 26, 2015

PASAY CITY, PHILIPPINES – Catholic families should resist "ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family" through such practices as contraception and same-sex marriage, Pope Francis told a meeting of families Jan. 16.

Commenting on a reading from the Gospel of St. Matthew, in which St. Joseph twice learns God's will for the Holy Family from an angel in a dream, Pope Francis said dreaming could serve an analogous purpose in ordinary Christian families.

"I very much like this idea of dreaming in a family," the pope said. "When you lose this capacity to dream, you lose the capacity and energy to love."

But the pope noted St. Joseph's dreams also revealed the "dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth.

"So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm."

First among these dangers, the pope said, is an "ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family."

"It is not born of the dream that we have with God from prayer, or from the mission that God gives us; it comes from outside, and that's why I say it is colonization."

The term refers to "materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality," he said.


Pope Francis went on to say the "family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life."

The pope praised Blessed Paul VI for his 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae, which affirmed Catholic moral teaching against contraception. The encyclical also instructed confessors to show "compassion in particular cases" of penitents who had failed to follow the teaching, he noted.

Pope Francis called on Catholic families to be "sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life, from conception to natural death."


Three days later, on the flight back to Rome from Manila, the pope told reporters that, despite Church doctrine against contraception, Catholics fail to practice "responsible parenthood" when they have too many children.

While the Church rejects population-control programs, "this does not mean a Christian must make children one after another." The pope cited the case of a woman who became pregnant an eighth time after giving birth to seven children via cesarean section.

"Does she want to leave seven orphans?" he said. "This is tempting God."

"Some people think – excuse me for saying this – that to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits," Pope Francis said. Yet Church teaching provides for "many licit ways" to limit reproduction.