A contributor to some other anti-blog makes up for my indiscretion of yesterday by congratulating the Holy Father on his adherence to the traditional teaching of the Church, with respect to human breeding levels. His suggestion to reporters in the usual airborne scrum, that Catholics should not “breed like rabbits,” is thus well taken. While the (pseudonymous) commenter did not provide supporting scriptural or patristic references, I’m sure plenty could be found. All one needs is a free afternoon and good wrists, thanks to recent technology; and the distinction between humans and other animals is anyway implicit throughout the literature. Nor can I think of a single place where the imitation of rabbits is proposed to the faithful; though of course it is notoriously hard to prove a negative.

Now, the gestation period for rabbits is about four weeks, and litters can be as many as fourteen, though I believe the average is a paltry six. As induced ovulators, the females can be impregnated again within minutes of giving birth. The offspring become sexually mature in six months; so we may now do the arithmetic. If, in defiance of papal advice, Catholic women were to breed like rabbits, the demographic effect would be significant. From our present base of perhaps 600,000,000 females — but subtracting half as too young or too old — we could draw level with the rest of the world’s population in a month, and reach our first trillion well inside the year.

Even at the Pope’s recommended average of three (per month, I assume, given his rabbit analogy), I should think Canon Law will have completely displaced the Shariah by summer, everywhere.

It is odd, though. Carrying my binoculars to my balconata this morning, and searching the neighbourhood for my buzzard (see antepenultimate Idlepost), I did not spot him. But more interesting, I did not spot a single rabbit, either. Could there be something wrong with my math? Impossible. Could my buzzard have eaten every rabbit in sight? (Or, that would have been in sight?) He did not look so hungry. There must be other factors, limiting the rabbit population; other factors which, it seems to me, we could overcome should we ever experience a deficiency of protein.

Malthusian worries about overpopulation have been discredited by greater authorities than I; let me spare gentle reader a reprise of their arguments. In the case of Catholics, I suppose the reason we have so few, is that so many go off to the nunneries, these days. (There may be other explanations, but this is the one I prefer.)

My own recommendation, in accord with Rome’s, is that Catholic families breed only like people. My fear, perhaps echoing the Pope’s, is that anything faster would necessarily involve reproductive technologies that, as Christians, we could not accept. One per litter should be adequate, as a minimum, and as to the cumulative total, well, I am on record. I think, enough boys to make a cricket team, and as many girls as comes with that. This should be enough to maintain our population, through any foreseeable environmental catastrophe.