21 January 2015

Run, Rabbit, Run

The Holy Father today in his weekly audience took time to praise large families.  As this article describes it, this is an obvious attempt to undo some of the damage of His Holiness' lamentable Rabbit Discourse in the Air, 2015.

Of course, the modern media being what it is, and modern man being what he is, this is too late to really fix things.

That being said, I like to give credit where credit is due, and you have to admit that this is a rare occasion where the Vatican gives at least some semblance of awareness that the Pope put his sacred foot in it.  That to me is a very welcome development.  So bravo.  Good on him, I say.

However, do not mistake today's remarks for an apology.  That would be progress indeed.  

I had an idea of how this might have been handled a bit better, so I will repost below part of a comment I left at Creative Minority Report's post on this issue:

What would be more effective, and in fact, humble, would be something like this: "In a spur-of-the-moment Q&A, I used a poor choice of words in trying to relate to the press the nuances of the Church's position on contraception and related issues. These words were then taken out of context, and the result is that it is made to appear that I, and the Church, somehow wish to denigrate or discourage large families. This is not true; in fact, large families are a great gift from God, as I have said in the past. They are not the source of problems in the world; in fact, in many ways they are the solution to many of the problems facing the world. 

I apologize for using the coarse expression about rabbits. Human beings are not rabbits! I was merely trying to explain in everyday terms what the Church has always taught-- and the world has always failed to understand-- that there is no requirement that a Catholic couple must have as many children as possible. That is not what being open to life means. 

Large families are heroic witnesses to this openness, but obviously God does not require such a heroic witness from all."

Such a statement and apology would make the point that every Catholic would understand, even if the press didn't. And we wouldn't be left waiting for Mark Shea to assure us we didn't hear what we actually heard, and that in fact, we are stupid.

Now, for a true disclaimer:  What right have I to advise the Pope on humility, being the person that I am?  What right have I to blame someone for saying something stupid, being the non-stop stupid quote generator that I am?

None and none. God bless.


Matt OCDS said...


If you don't mind, I'll just sort of migrate my comments from the other post to this one.

In terms of this being a "back track" of sorts, I'm not really seeing that. As I have mentioned previously, context is key. In context of the current supposed velvet-slipper-in-the-mouth incident earlier this week, this isn't a backtrack insomuch as it's a restatement of something Pope Francis said last month that everyone seems to have forgotten about.

Here is the relevant link to the Vatican Radio website where Pope Francis visited and praised an association of large families. This is from December 2014

The text includes this gem:

"The Pope went on to urge politicians and the local administration to provide more support to help people with large families, lamenting that such help is not always forthcoming. He concluded his address with a special prayer for families hit by the economic crisis where either the father or mother have lost their jobs or where the young can’t find employment, as well as all families struggling with solitude and divisions. And please, continue praying for me, the Pope ended, “because in a way I’m like a grandfather for all of you.”

The media seems to have a real short attention span when it comes to keeping Pope Francis' comments in a situational context or within the context of what he's previously said.

The "Rabbits" comment came in the context of discussing a woman who has had multiple c-sections. I can understand the concern for this.

In the full text discussion of the Pope's comments from the Vatican website as well, right after he mentions rabbits, he states that pregnancy is a sacred and prayerful decision that is to be undertaken by a married couple and their pastor.

The obvious conclusion from all these statements in context? Large families are good. However, large families that are not present without serious medical intervention, maybe not so much. As the Pope points out, it's far better to have a smaller number of kids with a Mother and Father, than a larger number of kids with just a Father.


Athelstane said...

Actually, as bad as the rabbit comment was, the anecdote of His Holiness reprimanding the Italian mother wanting an eighth child was considerably worse. The rabbit comment at least was clumsily trying to express a real teaching of the Church - that while couples must remain open to the gift of life, they are not absolutely obligated to have as many children as they physically can. "Rabbits," of course, was a disastrously vulgar way to express it.

But the public lambasting of this (soon to be no longer) anonymous mother was something else. It was horrifically unpastoral to her, and it sent the wrong message entirely to mothers who have had multiple c-sections. Odds are long against the possibility that he was well acquainted with her medical history in the first place, as Catherine Harmon over at Catholic World Report (not notably a hive for anti-Francis polemics) pointed out yesterday.

It would be nice to hear an apology for THAT misstep.

Long-Skirts said...


“He said he chided her…”

Not to the boys
Who do their own schtick.
Not to the girls
Who call themselves Rick.

Not to the men
Who cut off heads quick.
Not to the Extra
Ministers’ clique.

Not to the gals
On their buses so slick.
Not to the spouses –
Find new lips to lick.

Not to the Prelates
Preaching heresy thick.
Not to the kinky
In lust for a kick.

But give me the mother
With child number eight –
She, I’ll chastise,
She, I’ll berate,

Then brag to reporters
How I admonish sins great –
A mother and child,