On Thursday, Pope Francis chimed in on the Zika virus explosion globally, particularly in predominantly Catholic Latin America, saying that contraception could be “the lesser of two evils” as it relates to the risk of birth defects in the unborn, a condition called microcephaly.

Pope Francis donkeyhotey
Pope Francis donkeyhotey

“Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil,” Francis said. “In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.

“I would also ask doctors to do their utmost to find vacancies against these mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on.”

However, the Pontiff did emphasize that abortion is “an absolute evil”, and should not be a consideration. This is in light of calls for the Brazilian government to loosen restrictions on abortion in the country reporting the most cases of microcephaly.

Two weeks ago, the Brazilian Conference of Catholic Bishops said that the disease is “no justification whatsoever to promote abortion.” This came after a group of feminist organizations asked the Supreme Federal Court in Brazil to legalize abortion in cases of “malformation of the fetus.”

In the statement, released Feb. 4, the Brazilian bishops say that it is not morally acceptable to promote abortion “in the cases of microcephaly, as, unfortunately, some groups are proposing to the Supreme Federal Court, in a total lack of respect for the gift of life.”

The United Nations has also been pushing abortion in light of the Zika epidemic.