Matt Archbold graduated from Saint Joseph’s University in 1995. He is a former journalist who left the newspaper business to raise his five children. He writes for the Creative Minority Report.
There are some who seem pretty thrilled with the outbreak of Zika because it's given new life to the anti-life crowd. The somewhat new virus has reinvigorated the tired old arguments against the Catholic Church's teaching on life and sexuality.
According to the Center for Disease Control, the Zika virus is spread through mosquito bites with he most common symptoms including fever, rash, joint pain, and conjunctivitis which typically lasts several days to a week. The illness is usually mild with symptoms lasting from several days to a week. However, some reports link the disease with birth defects and some governments in South America have warned women at risk of contacting the Zika virus from becoming pregnant. The threat of very ill babies has ramped up efforts to liberalize abortion laws and has many criticizing the Catholic Church for their belief that all life is sacred.
Here's some headlines:
The Guardian: "Concern grows over Catholic church's silence over Zika virus crisis."
CNN: "Zika tests Catholic position on birth control."
Christian Science Monitor: "Zika's no-pregnancy warnings put Catholic teachings under pressure."
Catholics 4 Choice is even tweeting about it:
Now, even some theologians are being quoted, discussing the Church's teaching on contraception in a not so favorable light.
"The polemical approach, that contraception is devious or demonic in origin or the smoke of Satan, may ultimately not be the best pastoral approach," said the Rev. James Bretzke, a professor of theology at Boston College. He said in the face of such consequences -- in this case, a baby who could suffer greatly -- he thinks the church might not be so hard line, especially under the leadership of Pope Francis, who has taken a more merciful stance on many social issues from abortion to homosexuality and is himself from South America, where Zika has taken such a heavy toll. "In Catholic Church teaching, some would say it would be acceptable to try to prevent conception in cases like this," Fr. Bretzke said.
I love how some say things like "some would say" so as to not own the statement at all. It's not them, you see, they're just saying what some would say. Well, some would say that's being cowardly.
So let's deal with the contraception angle first because that's where the fight starts. All these articles are being rushed to print and all the furrow browed talking heads on television are speaking with great concern about all those who are terribly affected by the Church's backward thinking on sexuality. But then they can't help themselves. Even when trying to knock the Church for oppressing people they can't help themselves but go too far by saying that nobody cares what the Church says anyway.
(Daniel) Ramirez, the historian from the University of Michigan, noted that practically speaking, it might not matter. As in the United States, many Catholics in Latin America don't follow the church's advice on birth control anyway. According to a survey by the Spanish-language television network Univision, 88% of Mexicans, 91% of Colombians and 93% of Brazilians support the use of contraceptives.
Soooooooo, why are we printing thousands of articles and furrowing our brows on CNN if nobody listens to what the Church says anyway?
It's because these recent attacks on the Church have nothing to do with Zika. The same people who were attacking the Church's teaching on contraception and abortion last year are attacking the Church this year.
Tewedros Melesse, director general of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, reportedly said that "in the face of the Zika virus" that:
“Access to contraception should be available to all. Governments must ensure their medical services have the supplies for those who want it. We recommend that strengthening family planning programmes and access to safe abortion services for those women who need it and where it is permitted by law.”
Now, I love how she says "in the face of the Zika virus" as if Planned Parenthood has completely changed course because of the changing situtaion. So how does the Zika virus change Planned Parenthood's agenda one iota? It doesn't. The Zika virus has nothing to do with it. Their agenda has been clear and consistent -Contraception and abortion for all. Some would say that they're using the Zika virus for their own gain. Some would say.
Fr. Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, pointed out in one article that the prohibition against birth control "doesn't change based on circumstances." The Church's teaching that all life is sacred even when that life may be harder or more difficult to care for is also unchanging and remains at the heart of the faith. It's unchanging, no matter what CNN, Planned Parenthood, and Catholics4Choice say.