Pope Francis has appeared to signal an openness to birth control to prevent infection, while strongly rejecting abortion as a solution to the Zika virus now sweeping across Latin America and elsewhere, reports Crux.
In remarks to reporters on his way back to Rome from Mexico, the Pope cited a decision by Pope Paul VI in the early 1960s to allow nuns in the Congo to take contraceptives to avoid pregnancy due to rape.
Avoiding a pregnancy under such circumstances, Francis said, “is not an absolute evil.” However, he did not say specifically that he would approve contraception in the fight against Zika.
On the Catholic response to the Zika virus, native to Africa and Asia but with outbreaks now prevalent in Catholic-heavy South and Central America, the Pontiff clearly ruled out abortion as a solution.
But he seemed to leave the door open as to whether the traditional Catholic principle of the “lesser of two evils” could apply to the use of contraception.
The Zika virus, transmitted by a mosquito, has mild symptoms in adults, but is believed to cause microcephaly (abnormal smallness of the head) in babies when a pregnant woman is infected.
“Abortion is never the lesser evil, it’s a crime,” Francis said categorically. “It’s to discard one to save another one. It’s what the Mafia does; it’s a crime, an absolute evil.”
'Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil' (Reuters/SkyNews)