German rabbit breeders slam Pope’s ‘don’t breed like rabbits’ comment

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German rabbit breeders have taken offence at the pope’s use of the example of rabbits to urge against over-breeding.

Pope Francis’s advice to Roman Catholics about breeding too enthusiastically has drawn the ire of rabbit breeders from Germany.

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The association of rabbit breeders in Germany have said that contrary to popular belief, rabbits do not have a rampant sex drive and that the Pope should have chosen his words more carefully. 

The Pope made the remarks on board the Papal plane as he returned home to Rome following a week-long trip to Sri Lanka and the Philippines. 

“Some people think – excuse the expression – that to be good Catholics we must be like rabbits. No. We need responsible parenthood, this is clear,” he said, adding that he thought three was an ideal number of children.

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But Erwin Leowsky, the president of the German Rabbit Breeders Association, said the allusion to rabbits’ famed fecundity was “stupid”.

“He should really think harder about giving up expressions like that and allow people to use contraception instead. I think it would be much more appropriate than saying such stupid things.”

The reputation of rabbits is mostly applied to animals living in the wild, rather than those bred in captivity, Mr Leowsky said.

In his remarks on the flight back to Rome, the Pope cited the case of a woman he had met who was pregnant with her eighth child after seven caesarean sections.

“That is an irresponsibility!” he said, adding that there are “licit” or acceptable ways of regulating births that are approved by the Vatican – an apparent reference to the Natural Family Planning method of monitoring a woman’s cycle to avoid intercourse when she is ovulating. 

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