Francis’ most recent comments in Manila affirming the church’s ban on artificial contraception, as well as his later comment that Catholics are under no obligation to reproduce “like rabbits,” were shaped by a political frame. You might even say his view is distorted by politics.

Before his now infamous “rabbits” comment, Francis described the effort to legitimate the use of artificial contraception in the Philippines as “ideological colonization.” It reminded careful listeners of John Paul II’s phrase “contraceptive imperialism,” used to describe the way NGOs and other aid organizations premised aid on the acceptance and promotion of condemns or birth control pills…

For a man who issues such colorful and memorable putdowns, it’s an odd tic of Francis’ to retreat into political formulas to describe what the church once understood in terms of personal sin. Francis seems less horrified by mortal sin than by Americanization. I’m sure he would clarify, if it were put to him that way. But it reveals an instinct.