In Zika outbreak, contraceptives may be 'lesser evil,' pope says

By Cindy Wooden

THE PAPAL FLIGHT FROM MEXICO (CNS) — With physicians across Central and South
American urging women to postpone pregnancy because of the Zika virus that
causes birth defects, Pope Francis said using contraceptives could be a
“lesser evil.”

a news conference Feb. 17 on his way back to Rome after a six-day visit to
Cuba and Mexico, the pope was asked if the use of artificial contraceptives or abortion could
be considered “a lesser evil” when the baby had a high risk of birth

is not a lesser evil — it’s a crime,” Pope Francis said. It is the
deliberate taking of an innocent human life. “It’s an absolute evil.”

confuse avoiding pregnancy with abortion,” the pope said.

concept of a “lesser evil” may apply to artificial birth control,
however, he said, pointing to Blessed Paul VI’s consent in the early 1960s for
women religious in the then-Belgian Congo to take the pill when rape was being
used as a weapon of war.

abortion, he said, “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain
cases, as in this one and such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it
was clear.”

the same time, Pope Francis pleaded with doctors and scientists “to do
their utmost to find vaccines against these mosquitoes that carry this disease.”

officials have urged women to postpone their pregnancies for two years, because
the Zika virus can produce microcephaly, a rare neurological condition that
causes smaller heads in newborns, affecting the normal development of their

general, the Catholic Church is opposed to artificial birth control, but
promotes natural family planning to space births.

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Follow Wooden on Twitter: @Cindy_Wooden.


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