zika virus
Young child with microcephaly

Microcephaly isn't a terribly common birth defect. The condition, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains, has been making headlines with a spike of occurrences in Brazil. Doctors noticed a correlation between the defect and the spread of a virus called Zika.

Zika is the likely culprit of microcephaly and several other severe birth defects and has been on the raise in South America. Expecting mothers will terminate their pregnancies, worried that their children will be born with microcephaly, something the Catholic Church is ideologically opposed to even more than mere contraception.

Zika is spread primarily by mosquitos but there is some worry that it could also be passed by sexual contact. In response to that, Pope Francis recently revealed that the Catholic Church is prepared to set aside their official position on condoms and encourage their use in Brazil. A bend in the rules like this is extremely rare.

There has been an exception before in the 1960's when Pope Paul VI allowed nuns in Africa to use birth control to help prevent pregnancies resulting from rape committed during wartime. Both this and the proposed Zika exception operate on the "lesser of two evils" logic. The Vatican told reporters that "avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil," while according to them, abortion is.

Timeless and Universal Truths

This is a bit of semantic maneuvering on the part of the Vatican. The Church wants to be able to say that its values are the timeless and universal truths of an everlasting God. Members of the faith have used this notion to condemn abortions and contraception even in cases where they seem uniquely necessary.

For example, since the Pope refers to abortion as absolute evil, we can gather that a lesser evil would be to let a woman die from complications during pregnancy, or that a victim carry her rapist's baby to term against her will. In fact, the Diocese of Phoenix phrases the situation as such: "We may never perform an intrinsically evil act even to bring about a great good."

To be able to tell women in circumstances like this that they shouldn't use contraception or get an abortion requires a very firm stance. The exception Pope Francis is prepared to condone is problematic to the notion of a universal rule on moral grounds. For most instances, the Church will maintain that the horrible specifics of a situation do not change their stance on the issue, however here they are saying exactly the opposite.

Modern Problems, Modern Solutions

Pope-FrancisLet us be clear, it's the more medically responsible thing to do, should the Zika virus be spread through sexual contact, to encourage the use of contraception to slow the spreading of it. The issue that rises when they condone this however, is their rationale for their opposition in cases of HIV, AIDS, and other STI's loses its leg to stand on.

In America, parishioners seem to be making their own decisions regardless of the Vatican's official stance. A 2011 report from the Guttmacher Institute shows that about 98% of Catholic women have used or regularly use contraceptive methods banned by the Church. This means that it is people in poorer and less educated areas of the world where the Church has influence that are more likely to adhere to, and thus be affected by church doctrine.

A relatively modern-thinking Pope like Francis should be able to connect the dots here. "Artificial contraception" as they call it, can be seen beyond a means to engage in "sexual sin" while attempting to remove the consequences. You can morally object to sex outside of marriage and still admit that methods of preventing diseases or unwanted pregnancies are helpful.

The Catholic Church has shown here that the rule against contraception is not timeless and universal. The Vatican should take a cue here from the compassion of Pope Francis and rethink the rule overall and whether or not it's helpful or effective at what it seeks to do, namely, prevent sex outside of marriage.

What do you think, should the Church change their overall stance on contraception or is it a timeless truth that shouldn't be ignored, even in cases like the Zika virus?


  1. Minister Ronald Antrim's Avatar Minister Ronald Antrim

    It is a fact that people young or old are not going to adstain from having premarital sex, so yes, the use of condoms should not only be permitted , but encouraged!

    1. T's Avatar T

      Then that is their moral shortcoming(s), and violation of the church doctrine to which they profess to be faithful should not be the easy way out.

  1. Amber Castleman's Avatar Amber Castleman

    I agree with him think of HIV many babies born with it die two weeks after birth and many aborted due to HIV birth defects Zika Virus if is bad enough can kill a baby before birth it cause a baby to have no brain at all at least with condoms or safe sex you are protecting yourself from it if sex during pregnancy you are protecting that baby from std harm.

    1. T's Avatar T

      Adhering to your religion's doctrine is a part of being in a religious faith. Lack of moral character, willful ignorance of the tenets of the doctrine, and lack of self-control are at issue. Were the doctrines abided by, there would be no need to 'protect the baby'.

  1. Remy's Avatar Remy

    It may be terribly sacrilegious of me, but God changed his mind once about how things should be, thus the Old and New Testaments. We live in different times, and a 2,000 year old document just can't hold up these days without more and more loose interpretation.

    On one hand, you have the people who want to uphold the idea of a doctrine and somehow make it fit our modern world. On the other hand, you have people who consider that the doctrine needs to be amended to match the modern world.

    In this case, instead of saying, "Sex outside marriage is a sin, and its purpose is procreation, so birth control is forbidden," it seems more effective to say, "Irresponsible sex can be a sin, and carelessly spreading disease even more so."

    1. T's Avatar T

      If one routinely cannot abide by the basic doctrines of the faith to which one professes commitment, then one should consider changing to a religion that meets their choice of lifestyle, such as a religion or cult that encourages infidelity, sexual promiscuity, risk-taking, lack of self-control and responsibility, etc.

      1. Brother John's Avatar Brother John

        Excellent advice TruthBeTold! Many Christians have adopted the faith of their families, rather than exploring and selecting one that's in line with their beliefs from the thousands available. Any qualified pastor/minister should be able to clearly outline what makes their particular brand of faith the right one for each individual. For example, what’s the difference between the Lutheran, Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian and Unitarian churches?

        For those with a social conscience, what is each denomination’s position on LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights, the ordination and treatment of women, killing/murder/war, acceptance of alternative beliefs, etc??

        If it's more a matter of community and fellowship, rather than an obligatory confirmation of faith, one might also consider living their lives based on their own ethics, morals and beliefs while investing time with like minded people as a volunteer with a group they feel is worthwhile.

  1. retired at a young age from Catholicism's Avatar retired at a young age from Catholicism

    I think that papa Frank should reclassify the use of condoms from being a mortal sin to being a venial sin. That way he could hold onto his moral high ground yet more Catholics world-wide could (and would) use condoms without fear of (non-existent) hell.

  1. Reverend Robert's Avatar Reverend Robert

    There are many reasons to use contraceptive devices. It is a very personal matter, whether it is Zika, HIV or a family already too large. How can having a loving relationship with your spouse become sinful when using a condom? It is another ridiculous, man made, rule that has no merit!

  1. Penny's Avatar Penny

    Sensitive subjects just as this needs to be looked at objectively. I believe the truth of right or wrong in many aspects including the use of contraceptives, varies person to person. Do you personally believe it is wrong? Right? Forgivable necessary act? It's my opinion that no God is going to judge, or even be disappointed in us for protecting our health, as well as the health of others. If you set on not using protection, then perhaps absence (don't have sex at all) would be a better option for you.

  1. Alison Marlowe's Avatar Alison Marlowe

    Let's face it, in the US, Catholic women have been early and enthusiastic adopters of all forms of birth control. Everything I learned about birth control, I learned from Catholic classmates. I've always felt that the Vatican needs to get over itself and come into the 21st century with the rest of us.

  1. Jörg Hornemann's Avatar Jörg Hornemann

    i defenetivly would allowed to use condoms from my personal opinion. cause if people wanna have fun they will have sex anyway and before shit went crazy its better this way. so in this way you would only do stuff thats not so liked to be seen than to offend against the death sins. i mean havin sex with condom not so well seen but beening preagnant and then killing the baby (thou shall not kill)cause you dont wanna have one. i would say condoms are the better way. but what was popin in my mind just to regulate the human population is that the church could train there believers in dry ejaculation(i`ve heard it in the last time and was thinking "wait birthcontrol over this way hm might could work"). so dry ejaculation is when you can control your muscels on the pelvisfloor that no semen came out. so this might be another possibility to have fun and not doing anything bad.

  1. Mary's Avatar Mary

    I agree on the fact that it may help keep the little precious babies from being born with birth defects....or worse..death ..BUT CONDOMS..N BC ARE LET ALONE MAN MADE. THE ONLY FULL PROOF METHOD IF YOU DONT WANT TO OR ARE NOT ABLE TO FOR HEALTH REASONS AND OR RISKS TO THE BABY OR PREVENT STDS!..

  1. Christiann's Avatar Christiann

    As a Christian and a practicing Roman Catholic, who is strongly committed to the continuing evolution of this 2000-year-old church, it is my work to encourage the church to redefine its role. It should not be the role of any man-made institution or any man to tell people how to conduct their lives. Our purpose should be to help people connect with the Great Spirit that is behind this universe. That was the teaching of Jesus, to bring us the good news of God's love and God's omnipresence and God's accessibility to each of us. Wherever the Jewish rules of the day conflicted with compassion and justice, Jesus brought it to the scene (the Samaritan woman at the well, the adulteress about to be stoned, performing a healing on the Sabbath, sitting with tax collectors and dying with thieves). Birth control in an age of hideous disease? Come on! Its a slam dunk. As Francis has said, "Who am I to judge?" When we have a direct communication with our loving Creator, we are given the knowledge of what is right and the courage to carry it out. The world must re-establish its direct connection to the Creator. It is the work of every Spirit-directed person and every Christian. What is not our work is bossing each other around.

    1. Marron Abeillee's Avatar Marron Abeillee


      Your spirit shines through! I do not think that anyone could have put this better! Thank you for being a clear and shining light in this world!

  1. Charles David Whitfield's Avatar Charles David Whitfield

    I do like this Pope! ! ! ! There is nothing wrong with using birth control products into day world. The religion leaders have fail at stopping people from have premarital sex and holding fathers responsible for having children out of wedlock. I support a law that would limited two children per mother, if the mother can afford to have more than two children she may. But if the mother can not afford a third the mother will be fine $5,000 and her tubes will be tied. A father will go through the same process as a mother.

    1. T's Avatar T

      $750 cash only, and never once have I seen an illegal alien on U.S. public aid charity (your tax dollars at work) dropping an anchor baby not be able to come up with the cash within 2-3hours when they wanted their tubes tied.

  1. T's Avatar T

    Catholicism's doctrine is against all forms of birth control except abstinence and rhythm method. No exceptions. Self-control should be lectured, not violation of the basis tenets of the doctrine. This Pope is as bad for Catholicism as Obama has been for the U.S. As for declaring Trump a non-Christian for advocating the protection and safety of U.S. citizens against illegal aliens and drug and human trafficking, shame on him. Another example of how the Pope is demeaning and degrading to the Catholic doctrines and the institution itself. The fact that the culture he was raised in is a den of iniquity might be swaying his judgment, but he was chosen to lead the Catholic religion, not change it. Don't see Rome reducing its security and safety measures, much less welcoming all those illegal 'refugees' onto Vatican property to squat. Had the Pope said he didn't think it was an idea supported by his view of Christianity, that might have been less disgusting and offensive; instead, he personally attacked a man as if security and protection of the US is a religious action; he acted selfishly and with only self-centered interest, based on his own warped beliefs. NEVER have I heard another Pope personally attack such as this Pope did. As if the U.S. citizens and tax-payers have not spent hundreds of billions of dollars on caring for and paying for the illegals and their bastard children and aberrant lifestyles and illegal activities here and abroad.

    1. Brother John's Avatar Brother John

      As the first Jesuit to be elected Pope, perhaps his beliefs are more secular and political with world domination as the goal….. one world government…. one world religion


  1. Rev. Ida M. Grossi, M.Div's Avatar Rev. Ida M. Grossi, M.Div

    Truth Be Told is spot on. I congratulate you. Stay strong in your faith and beliefs. This pope is the pope of global warming, not the word of God as taught by his holy son and the Messiah, Jesus. God bless those poor children afflicted. God watch over and help all of His children. Amen

  1. Brother John's Avatar Brother John

    "the pope of global warming", Rev. Ida? It's utterly amazing that anyone would believe in a god without any supporting evidence and deny global warming/climate change with overwhelming evidence simultaneously.


  1. Rev. Ida M. Grossi, M.Div's Avatar Rev. Ida M. Grossi, M.Div

    There is no global warming. Only the Acts of God. Please don't get pulled into the lies. Satan is a liar, a thief and a killer. Be well Brother John.

    1. Brother John's Avatar Brother John

      Rev. Ida…. are you suggesting that the linked information is false and possibly the work of Satan? Are NOAA, NASA and science in general involved in a conspiracy? Do you believe the Bible is accurate and true while denying this is real?




  1. Brother John's Avatar Brother John

    Rev. Ida….. are you denying that the earth's climate is changing (which would be contrary to the link I posted) or that the changes are due to God, not humans? If through God, why?

  1. DJ's Avatar DJ

    The health climate of the world is constantly changing and the church, as well as everyone else, should be progressive in their attitude. Remaining in old, or outdated ideas can be more detrimental than compassionate. Reality should be met on its own terms. In any health crisis, the highest & best solutions should be brought forth.

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