For centuries, the Catholic Church has made its stand on contraception or birth control methods known: it is evil and not allowed. But in the rising face of Zika virus, Pope Francis on Thursday suggests contraception might be considered to prevent the spread of the virus and the chances of giving birth to deformed babies - CNN reports.
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The Pope made this comment during an interview that held on a flight from Mexico to Rome, responding to the dilemma of either aborting pregnancies infected with Zika or using contraception as “the lesser of two evils”.
"It is to kill someone in order to save another. This is what the Mafia does," Pope Francis responded. "On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil." He referred to abortion as an “absolute evil” and “a crime.”
Then he went down history lane to cite an instance in 1968 when Pope Paul VI allowed African nuns to use contraceptives where they had been raped during the Belgian-Congo crises.
"There was a legitimation of contraception at the time, and I think he's saying that a similar situation now exists in countries where the Zika virus is prevalent," said the Rev. James Keenan, an expert on Catholic sexual ethics and morality.
Rev. Keenan in justifying the position of the Pope referred comments made by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in 2010 where in said that in certain cases, the use of condoms to prevent the spread of diseases is the first step toward moral responsibility.
But millions of conservative Catholics around the world would not readily agree with the Pope’s comment despite the rising threats of giving birth to deformed babies as a result of Zika virus infection.
"Contraceptives are not a solution," said Bishop Leonardo Ulrich Steiner, secretary general of the National Council of Bishops of Brazil. "There is not a single change in the church's position."
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And The Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, has said that birth control is wrong, no matter what. "That prohibition doesn't change based on circumstances. So couples have a responsibility to live according to the church's teachings in whatever circumstances they find themselves."