POPE Francis has insisted that Catholics don't have to behave "like rabbits" and have more children than is safe or responsible.
The pontiff was denouncing what he called the "ideological colonisation" of families and the developing world. He claims Western ideas about birth control and gay rights are being imposed by groups, institutions or individual nations - often as a condition for development aid.
He said there were plenty of church-approved ways to regulate births. But he said that, most importantly, no outside institution should impose its views on families.
Speaking to reporters en route home from the Philippines, he said: "Every people deserves to conserve its identity without being ideologically colonised."
Pope Francis says he wasn't justifying violence when he said a friend who had cursed his mother could "expect a punch" in return. Rather, he says he was only expressing a very human response to a provocation, and that greater prudence would have avoided such offence.
Francis clarified his comments about the limits of freedom of speech made last week in response to the terrorist attack against the French magazine 'Charlie Hebdo'. He said yesterday: "In theory we can say a violent reaction to an offence or provocation isn't a good thing... In theory we can say that we have the freedom to express ourselves. But we are human. And there is prudence, which is a virtue of human coexistence.
Pope Francis also revealed he hoped to visit Ecuador, Bolivia and Paraguay this year, as well as the Central African Republic and Uganda.
The 2015 trips, still in their planning stages and not confirmed, would come on top of his planned three-city visit to the United States in September.
The Pontiff disclosed his travel plans during an in-flight news conference on the way home from the Philippines yesterday.
He said he planned to canonise 17th-century missionary Junipero Serra, who established nine missions in California, during the Washington leg of the US trip.
But he essentially ruled out travelling to El Salvador to beatify slain Archbishop Oscar Romero, saying the ceremony would be celebrated by a Vatican official, as is the norm for beatifications.