Catholic News Service (CNS), the news-agency of the US bishops, claims the Pope told journalists on a return flight to Rome from Mexico that contraception may be “the lesser of two evils” for parents wanting to avoid conceiving a child disabled by the Zika virus. The pontiff is said to have used the example of the Belgian Congo in the 1960s, when it is claimed that Pope Paul VI had advised nuns that they could use contraception to avoid pregnancy after rape. (see Notes for Editors 1 below).
Maria Madise, manager of Voice of the Family http://voiceofthefamily.com/ an international coalition of Catholic pro-life/pro-family groups, said: “The Vatican has yet to confirm Pope Francis’s comments, but whatever the meaning of those comments, the Church’s teaching has not changed and cannot change. Catholic teaching remains that contraception is wrong in all circumstances.”
“Whatever Pope Paul VI is alleged to have said regarding nuns in the Belgian Congo, in Humanae Vitae he repeated clearly the Church’s constant teaching that the separation of the procreative and the unitive aspects of the conjugal act is always wrong.” (2)
“We have great sympathy for parents who may conceive a disabled child, but contraception is neither an ethical nor effective answer to the dangers of the Zika virus.” (3) Miss Madise added: “It should also be pointed out that hormonal forms of contraception can cause early abortions.”
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Notes for Editors:
(1) “In Zika outbreak, contraceptives may be ‘lesser evil,’ pope says”, Cindy Wooden, CNS https://cnstopstories.com/2016/02/18/in-zika-outbreak-contraceptives-may-be-lesser-evil-pope-says/
(2) Pope Paul VI, Humanae Vitae (1968), paragraph 14, “Unlawful Birth Control Methods”:
“Therefore We base Our words on the first principles of a human and Christian doctrine of marriage when We are obliged once more to declare that the direct interruption of the generative process already begun and, above all, all direct abortion, even for therapeutic reasons, are to be absolutely excluded as lawful means of regulating the number of children. Equally to be condemned, as the magisterium of the Church has affirmed on many occasions, is direct sterilization, whether of the man or of the woman, whether permanent or temporary.
Similarly excluded is any action which either before, at the moment of, or after sexual intercourse, is specifically intended to prevent procreation—whether as an end or as a means.
Neither is it valid to argue, as a justification for sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive, that a lesser evil is to be preferred to a greater one, or that such intercourse would merge with procreative acts of past and future to form a single entity, and so be qualified by exactly the same moral goodness as these. Though it is true that sometimes it is lawful to tolerate a lesser moral evil in order to avoid a greater evil or in order to promote a greater good,” it is never lawful, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil that good may come of it (18)—in other words, to intend directly something which of its very nature contradicts the moral order, and which must therefore be judged unworthy of man, even though the intention is to protect or promote the welfare of an individual, of a family or of society in general. Consequently, it is a serious error to think that a whole married life of otherwise normal relations can justify sexual intercourse which is deliberately contraceptive and so intrinsically wrong.”
(3) “Zika virus is no reason for abortion or contraception, says pro-life group”, Society for the Protection of Unborn Children (SPUC) www.spuc.org.uk, 4 February 2016. https://www.spuc.org.uk/news/press-releases/2016/february/zika-virus-is-no-reason-for-abortion-or-contraception-says-prolife-group It has been suggested that the Catholic Church should permit couples to use artificial contraceptives to avoid the risk of conceiving children who may be affected by the virus. This seems to be a misplaced suggestion based on a misunderstanding of the possible pathway of the disease.