Zika Virus News: No-Pregnancy Advice Contradicts Catholic Church Doctrine

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Feb 04, 2016 05:33 AM EST

The Zika virus outbreak has led the government in Latin America countries to advise their people to hold off pregnancy. Is this move threatening the Roman Catholic teaching about procreation?

Latin America is facing a huge challenge with the Zika Virus outbreak. The number of newborn children with microcephaly continues to grow. There are studies linking the Zika virus to the newborns' condition, which prompts the government to encourage their people to avoid getting pregnant in as much as possible.

Per Yahoo! News, in Colombia, the Minister of Health and Social Protection advised couples to wait until July 2016. Meanwhile, El Salvador officials recommend to wait until 2018. These moves are obviously out of line of the Catholic Church's teaching.

The church is encouraging the people to procreate. In fact, they do not support the use of contraception such as condoms or pills. The teaching of the church notes that the union of spouse achieves two ends of marriage -- the good of the spouse themselves and the transmission of life. Therefore, the natural occurrence of pregnancy when couples have a sexual intercourse should not be avoided.

Now, the Zika virus outbreak is testing the people's position again on birth controls.

CNN reported that the current situation in Latin America is not only causing medical problems as it is also creating a theological conundrum among the Roman Catholics.

"I've never seen this advice before, and when you hear it, you think, 'What are the bishops going to do?'" said Rev. John Paris, a bioethicist and Catholic priest at Boston College.

Daniel Ramirez, an assistant professor of history and American culture at the University of Michigan and an expert on Latin American religious culture, believes that the situation will "present a lot of problems for the bishops to sort out."

"They're going to have to really thread a fine theological needle here," Ramirez added.

In Latin America, most people's attitudes follow the laws of the Catholic Church. However, they are slowly detaching from the beliefs of the church. In a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, 66 percent among Latin American countries believe that Catholics should use birth controls.

Moreover, while the Latin America remains strict when it comes to anti-abortion laws, they did some adjustments based on their current predicament. In Brazil, abortion is always illegal but one judge made an exception for microcephaly, The New York Times reported.

The church, however, remains stern on their stand against abortion. "Nothing justifies an abortion," said Rev. Luciano Brito, a spokesperson for the Catholic Archdiocese of Olinda and Recife. "Just because a fetus has microcephaly won't make us favorable" to changing the law.

At the time, the church remains mum whether the Zika virus outbreak affects their pro-life teaching.

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