Pope says it gave him 'consolation and hope' to see so many large families during papal visit to South Asia

Pope Francis has praised large families as a “true gift from God” after saying Catholics don’t have to “be like rabbits”.

During his general audience in the Paul VI audience hall this morning, the Pope said that large families are not the cause poverty in the developing world, reports the Associated Press.

Referring to his time in Sri Lanka and the Philippines, he said it gave him “consolation and hope to see so many large families who welcome children as a true gift of God”.

“I have heard it said that families with many children and the birth of many children are among the causes of poverty. It seems to me a simplistic opinion,” he said, according to Zenit.

“I would say that the main cause of poverty is an economic system that has removed the person from the centre and has placed the god of money, an economic system that always excludes.”

Senior Vatican communications adviser Greg Burke has described, on Twitter, the Pope’s comments as a “reframing” of what the Pontiff said to reporters during a press conference on the plane home from the Philippines on Monday.

During the press conference, Francis reaffirmed his rejection of population control programmes as an example of “ideological colonisation” and his praise of Blessed Paul VI for defending Catholic teaching against contraception. But, he added, “this does not mean a Christian must make children one after another.”

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