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Pope Francis: Catholics shouldn't breed 'like rabbits'

Pope Francis says Catholics should not feel they have to breed "like rabbits" because of the Church's ban on contraception.

Pope Francis speaks to journalists on his flight back from Manila to Rome. Credit: Reuters

He said there were "many ways that are allowed" to practice natural family planning, adding that the Church promoted "responsible parenthood".

Speaking during his flight back from Manila to Rome following the end of his week-long Asia trip, Pope Francis said: "Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits - but no."

He discussed the case of a woman he met who had already had seven children by caesarean sections and had put her life at risk.

He said he berated her for "tempting God", adding that it was an "irresponsibility".

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Record crowd of up to 7m for Pope Manila address

Crowds in Manila wave to the Pope as he passes by. Credit: Reuters

Pope Francis concluded his trip to Asia on Sunday with an open-air Mass for a rain-drenched crowd in Manila that the Vatican and the government said drew up to seven million people, the largest ever for a papal event.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that if the predicted figure of six-to-seven million attendees was correct, it would be the "largest event in the history of the popes".

Pope John Paul drew some five million in a visit to the same area in 1995.

The 78-year-old current incumbent, wearing a transparent yellow poncho over his white cassock, was driven through the ecstatic crowd in his "popemobile".

In his homily, he attacked the Filipino government's population control efforts, and urged the nation to shun "social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption".

Up to six million people attend mass with Pope Francis

Huge crowds converged on a Manila park to see Pope Francis wrap up his Asian trip with an outdoor Mass expected to draw one of the largest crowds in Philippine history.

Pope Francis. Credit: Reuters

Organisers say as many as six million people may attend the afternoon service at Manila's Rizal Park, more than the some five million who flocked to a Mass by Pope John Paul 20 years ago in Asia's largest Catholic country.

Up to six million people attend mass with Pope Francis. Credit: Reuters

Faithful began arriving at the sprawling park on Saturday night to get good places and police expect the crowd to flow over into surrounding areas. About a dozen people were injured in a minor stampede when people rushed to get into the park, Johnny Yu of the Manila city disaster office said in a radio interview.

Pope Francis forced to end visit to Philippines early

Pope Francis was forced to end his visit to the Philippines early, after a fierce storm hit the city of Tacloban, just over a year since Typhoon Haiyan devastated the region.

Thousands of people braved the wind and rain to attend a mass, only for it to be cut short.

ITV News correspondent Richard Morgan reports:

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Scaffolding kills woman after Pope church visit

Pope Francis arriving at the service where the woman died. Credit: Reuters

A woman has died after being hit by scaffolding following a mass celebrated by Pope Francis in the central Philippine city of Tacloban.

The 27-year-old was a volunteer with Catholic Relief Services and was among about 150,000 people who attended the rain-drenched religious ceremonies close to Tacloban's seaside airport, police said.

Local media reported the scaffolding was used as a loudspeaker platform and was toppled by a sudden gust of wind.

Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi said the Pope was informed of the woman's death after returning to Manila.

Francis asked his aides "to investigate how he could show his own suffering in solidarity with the (woman's) family", Mr Lombardi said.

He cut short his visit to Tacloban because of an approaching storm that brought rain and strong winds to the city.

Philippines plane overshoots runway after Pope visit

The plane is seen after overshooting the runway today. Credit: AP

A plane carrying Filipino government officials overshot the runway at Tacloban airport after the Pope was forced to cut short his visit to the country due to storms.

The Associated Press news agency reports that no-one was injured in the incident.

In his visit to the region hit by last year's devastating Typhoon Haiyan, Pope Francis told worshippers: "When I saw from Rome that catastrophe, I felt that I had to be here. On those very days I decided to come here.

"I am here to be with you. Perhaps a little late, I have to say, but I am here," he said.

Pictures: Pope delivers mass in heavy rain and high winds

Pope Francis began a Mass near Tacloban airport wearing a transparent yellow poncho over his vestments as heavy rain and strong winds lashed a large crowd of worshippers, who stood amid puddles in a mud-soaked field.

Pope Francis (R), in a rain poncho, attends during a Mass near Tacloban airport Credit: Reuters
Pope delivers mass amid heavy rain and high winds. Credit: Reuters
Pilgrims brave rain and strong wind as they wait at Tacloban airport. Credit: Reuters

Speaking at the presidential palace on Friday, the Pope admired the "heroic strength, faith and resilience" shown by the Philippines as well as the solidarity people demonstrated after the typhoon.

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