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Pope Francis Stirs Controversy By Suggesting That Contraceptives Might Fight Zika Virus

Update Date: Feb 22, 2016 09:59 AM EST

A new storm has been created by Pope Francis. He has said that using contraceptives could help to fight the Zika virus, reports USA Today.

He was at a press conference while the Holy See was en route from Mexico to Rome on Thursday. Would the Catholic Church be open to birth control even as the Zika virus spreads? It did appear to be so, although Pope Francis drew a line between abortion and contraception, which the Catholic Church has opposed traditionally.

"Abortion is not a lesser evil. It's a crime, killing one person to save another. That is something that the Mafia does, an absolute evil. Don't confuse avoiding pregnancy with abortion," he said.

Moreover, while the Catholic Church opposes the use of contraceptives, his predecessor, Pope Paul VI in the 1960s recalled that nuns in Africa were allowed to use oral contraceptives even as threats of rape loomed there.

Rev. James Keenan, an expert on Catholic sexual ethics and morality, said that the Pope's comments would have far-reaching effects among people here who are being infected by Zika.

"This is not just about individuals. This is about the thousands of Catholic hospitals that can help women in this situation by providing contraception," he said.

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