Once again, Pope Francis is trying to manage the intimate details of the lives of his flock.
Previously, in a mixed metaphor, the pontiff raised eyebrows by suggesting that the faithful, who are made in God's image, are "not rabbits" and should not breed like "vermin."
Now, he maintains, opting not to procreate is "selfish" and "greedy."
It appears that, in his eyes, Catholics are damned if they do and damned if they don't.
However, it appears that His Holiness prefers worshipers to lust rather than to give in to pride or avarice. "At least lust is one of the more enjoyable of the seven deadly sins," the pope smirked.
He compared children to fingers, saying that, together, they make the family, as represented by the hand, whole and useful, except, he hastened to add, in performing "the act of self-pollution," which, since it is unlikely to result in offspring, should be "resisted."
Having children, the celibate pontiff speculated, "is one of the chief joys of the flesh," although he confessed that "it might be better, more comfortable, to have a couple of dogs, or two cats, to know and love," albeit "not in the Biblical sense." (Threesomes and bestiality, the pope reminded the faithful, are sinful, even within the bonds of love.)
A week ago, His Holiness said that it is all right, within the sight of God, to "whack your child" if he or she gets out of line, as long as the beating is "dignified."
Never has a pope taken so much interest in the intimate behavior of his flock as Pope Francis does. "It's kind of creepy," a cardinal said, "almost voyeuristic."
The pope warned that he may issue an encyclical about "The Birds and the Bees," wherein he identifies the responsibilities of good Catholics the world over to "be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth."
Otherwise, in a generation or two, there may be no Catholics to berate and rebuke.