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Pope Francis Says Contraception Can Be Acceptable in Regions Hit by Zika Virus

18 de fevereiro, 2016

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][/vc_column][vc_column width=”2/3″][vcex_navbar menu=”6″ button_color=”black” font_weight=”” hover_bg=”#c7aae2″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image=”676″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Pope Francis Says Contraception Can Be Acceptable in Regions Hit by Zika Virus, de Francis X. Rocca.
Publicado originalmente por The Wall Street Journal, em 18 de fevereiro de 2016.

ROME— Pope Francis said the use of contraception can be acceptable in regions hit by the Zika virus, a stance that could reignite a debate over the church’s prohibition on using condoms to stop the spread of the AIDS virus.

It was one of several stark comments the pope made during a news conference Wednesday on his flight back to Rome after a six-day trip to Cuba and Mexico.


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The pope also criticized Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump as “not Christian” for his immigration stance, and broke with his predecessors by suggesting that Catholic lawmakers are free to vote for same-sex unions.

The 79-year-old pope’s comments were particularly unguarded, coming at the end of grueling trip, but they reflect themes on which he has spoken boldly during his papacy.

He has been a vocal and uncompromising defender of immigrants’ rights. And he has also advocated a more welcoming approach to Catholics who find themselves at odds with the church’s teachings. Indeed, he famously responded in a 2013 news conference, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about homosexual priests.
Still, the comments on contraception—which is against church teaching—caused a stir especially in Latin America, a predominantly Catholic region at the center of what the World Health Organization has declared to be a global health emergency over the Zika virus and its possible connection to a birth defect called microcephaly.

“What he’s saying is that protecting reproductive rights is protecting the population,” said Debora Diniz, a founder of Anis, a women’s rights group based in the Brazilian capital.

They also could resonate in Africa, where AIDS still kills an estimated 1.1 million people a year. The use of condoms to help prevent its transmission has long been a flashpoint between the Catholic Church and health workers.

In Latin America, health authorities from El Salvador to Colombia have issued bulletins advising women to wait before getting pregnant, an admission of the dangers of Zika. Local bishops have said the Zika virus doesn’t justify the use of abortion or contraception.

However the pope distinguished between abortion, which he said was never acceptable, and contraception, which he said could be justified as the lesser evil in certain circumstances.

“Abortion is not the lesser of two evils. It is a crime,” he said. “It is to kill someone in order to save another. This is what the Mafia does. It is a crime, an absolute evil.”

He recalled that Pope Paul VI, author of the 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” which affirmed the immorality of contraception, permitted its use by nuns in the former Belgian Congo because rape was being used as a weapon during fighting there in the 1960s. Pope Francis said the spread of Zika was another exceptional circumstance.

“Avoiding pregnancy isn’t an absolute evil, and in certain cases such as this one, as in that one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear,” the pope said.

His words could encourage those calling for the church’s approval of using condoms to fight the spread of HIV, a subject that Pope Francis hasn’t pronounced on.

But Andrew Chesnut, chair in Catholic Studies at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, said the pope’s comments didn’t open the way to permanent doctrinal change.

“It suggests that in an emergency, you can make a temporary exception and use contraception,” said Mr. Chesnut. “But since the greatest growth of the church is in Africa, and that’s where the Catholic Church is most conservative, I don’t see it as leading to a permanent doctrinal change on this issue.”

Increasingly, though, the church’s stance, shared by many local Muslim and evangelical leaders, has fallen on deaf ears in Africa.

Since the early 2000s, some of the hardest-hit countries, particularly in eastern and southern Africa, have seen an uptick in condom use. That has helped lower the rate of new AIDS infections in sub-Saharan Africa by 34% in the decade to 2012, the United Nations says.

While contraceptives are available and affordable in most Latin American countries, women in rural areas often have trouble getting them. Cultural factors are also at play, with men often refusing to use condoms and women not feeling empowered to ask for contraception from doctors, says the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights.

The pope’s remarks about contraception recalled the excitement surrounding a 2010 book in which Pope Benedict XVI explored the morality of condom use.

He imagined a male prostitute infected with HIV who uses a condom to avoid infecting a client. That decision to spare another could be a “first step in the direction of a moralization,” the pope said.

Those words prompted speculation about a possible liberalization of church teaching on the subject—and several attempts by the Vatican to clarify the pope’s words.

Former colleagues have long said the Argentine-born pope has more accommodating view toward issues like contraception than many in the church, a product of his time spent in poor areas.

His remarks could compound criticism from more conservative Catholic leaders who worry that the pontiff is opening the way for a weakening of church teaching on social issues.

During his news conference, Pope Francis also addressed the topic of gay marriage.

A 2003 document from the Vatican’s doctrinal office, under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, categorically forbade Catholic legislators from voting for same-sex marriage or unions.

But Pope Francis said a Catholic legislator is free to vote on such matters in accordance with the dictates of a “well-formed conscience,” which he said wasn’t the same as merely subjective opinion.

The church regards homosexual acts as sinful, but Pope Francis has advocated a more open approach to gays, even as he reiterated the church’s opposition to same-sex marriage.

The pope in some ways is simply recognizing changes in society, even in his native Latin America. Same-sex marriage is fully legal in Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay, as well as most of Mexico. Civil unions are legal in Chile and Ecuador, while Colombia grants same-sex couples many of the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vcex_social_links social_links=”” style=”minimal-rounded” align=”right” size=”20″ width=”30″ height=”30″][/vc_column][/vc_row]

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