Much has been made of Pope Francis and his emphasis on mercy and compassion in interpreting church teaching as a breath of fresh air for the Catholic church. The escalating international public health crisis over the Zika virus gives Pope Francis an unprecedented opportunity to put his words into action to help some of the world’s poorest women.
The Zika epidemic has now spread to more than 25 countries in Pope Francis’ home region of Latin America and the Caribbean. This has prompted the World Health Organization to declare it a “public health emergency of international concern”—only the fourth time it has used this designation. WHO predicts up to 4 million cases of the mosquito-borne illness this year. While it is not yet been proven, Zika is thought to cause a birth defect known as microcephaly, which causes babies to be born with abnormally small heads. Brazil alone has seen a surge of 4,000 reported cases of the devastating disability, which can cause severe cognitive and developmental impairment.
With no known treatment for the disorder, health officials in El Salvador have cautioned women in that country to avoid getting pregnant for the next two years. But due to the Catholic hierarchy’s prohibition on modern methods of contraception and its continued political influence, birth control remains difficult to access in El Salvador and many neighboring countries, especially for poor women. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that more than 50% of pregnancies in the region are unintended, which means that many women don’t have the ability to postpone pregnancies even if they wanted to.
This is a fairly slimy thing for Time to publish under the “Religion” heading on Ash Wednesday, and not just because it’s an advocacy piece written by the head of something called “Catholics for Choice” under the guise of being a public health piece.
The article begins with the heavy implication that Pope Francis isn’t really compassionate if he doesn’t do exactly as the author says, and becomes more idiotic from there. The author (and Time) are also setting the Church up for blame, which is a popular media thing to do for almost all ills associated with Central and South America.
The Church remains opposed to abortion because of its reading of the Bible, and mosquito-borne viruses remain a problem because too many enviro-whackos have read and believed Rachel Carson. You know what would be easier to lift than the Church’s ban on abortion?