Pope Francis did not approve contraception to avoid the Zika virus. Here is an excellent response to today’s media frenzy:
Vatican City, Feb 18, 2016 / 02:06 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Despite a rush of headlines claiming Pope Francis is softening the Church’s stance on contraception, a closer look at his recent remarks could suggest otherwise.
During an in-flight press conference on his way back from Mexico, Pope Francis was asked by a reporter about the threat of Zika virus in many Latin American countries.
Noting that the virus may be linked to birth defects when transmitted from a pregnant woman to her unborn baby, the reporter asked the Holy Father about proposals involving “abortion, or else avoiding pregnancy” in areas where Zika virus is prevalent.
The Pope responded by emphatically stating that abortion is “a crime” and “absolute evil” that cannot be justified. He also spoke on the topic of avoiding pregnancy.
“Paul VI, a great man, in a difficult situation in Africa, permitted nuns to use contraceptives in cases of rape,” he said.
Seven sentences later, he added another comment. Not mentioning contraception specifically, he simply said that “avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one, or in the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”
Numerous news outlets suggested that the Pope was introducing a change – or at least a softening – in previous teaching.
However, Dr. Melissa Moschella, a philosophy professor at The Catholic University of America, suggested that this may not be the case.
When talking about avoiding pregnancy in connection with the Zika virus, the Pope may not necessarily have been implying artificial contraceptive use, but may have been referencing Natural Family Planning, she said.
Normally, if a married couple faces a serious reason to avoid pregnancy, the Church teaches that they may do so through Natural Family Planning, a process that involves identifying a woman’s fertile periods and abstaining from sexual activity during those times.
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(Source: Catholic News Agency/EWTN)