In one of his open dialogues on the papal plane back to Rome from Mexico, the Pope suggested that women threatened by the Zika virus could use contraceptives despite Roman Catholic teaching to the contrary. The fear of Zika has led some nations in affected areas to urge women to avoid pregnancy and energized pro-choice groups there to call for a lessening of strict anti-abortion laws.
“Abortion isn’t a lesser evil, it’s a crime,” he told reporters. “Taking one life to save another, that’s what the Mafia does. It’s a crime. It’s an absolute evil.”
Francis, however, drew a parallel to the decision taken by Pope Paul VI in the 1960s to approve giving nuns in Belgian Congo artificial contraception to prevent pregnancies because they were being systematically raped.
Abortion “is an evil in and of itself, but it is not a religious evil at its root, no? It’s a human evil,” he said. “On the other hand, avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil. In certain cases, as in this one (Zika), such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”