Brazil’s health minister has warned that the country is “badly losing” the battle against the Aedes aegypti mosquito blamed for spreading the Zika virus, which has been linked to microcephaly, a rare birth defect that sees babies born with unusually small heads.
Given that it is currently struggling to contain the outbreak, it is particularly unfortunate that Brazil has the highest Catholic population of any country in the world.
An estimated sixty-four percent of the Brazilian population, around 130 million people, consists of self-declared Catholics obliged to heed the Church’s insistence that deliberate acts of contraception are gravely sinful.
Poor women, often black, have so far been disproportionately affected by the microcephaly spike and there are many socio-economic factors at play here. There are, for example, high levels of sexual violence in Brazil and many women don’t even have access to birth control. Furthermore, abortion is illegal.
Nevertheless, the Catholic Church unquestionably has a role to play. No one would expect the Church to advocate the use of condoms on every conceivable occasion, but, in the circumstances, until such time as a vaccine is made available, surely it is incumbent on the Pope to step up and relax the Church’s stance on contraception? In Brazil. Right now.