A clear message is issued by the Catholic Church – the only form of contraception is abstinence.

Occasionally they have made “exceptions” or relaxed their guidance in times of necessity, one such was made in Africa whilst Pope Paul VI was Pontiff. He decreed that nuns may permit the use of birth control due to the high risk of rape at the time.

Pope Francis, made his views clear during his epic trip to Mexico recently, where he said, “Avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil.In certain cases, as in this one, such as the one I mentioned of Blessed Paul VI, it was clear.”

He went on to say “I would also ask doctors to do their utmost to find vaccines against these mosquitoes that carry this disease.

This needs to be worked on."

The message was also similar to that of Pope Benedict XVI when he said that the use of condoms was allowed under “exceptional circumstances” – as a preventative measure to spreading or contracting a disease, such as HIV/AIDS.

Too little too late?

But are these really changing times of the Catholic Church or simply taking a case by case view, which in a lot of cases is often too late and ineffective.

This new message from the Holy See is an olive branch to those that live in Latin America and are affected by the spread of theZika virus. But what of those women and families that have conceived a child? The Vatican again reiterated its’ stance on abortion, even in such cases where it's clear that an unborn child is at risk to Microcephaly.

The statement reads: "Not only is increased access to abortion and abortifacients an illegitimate response to this crisis but since it terminates the life of a child it is fundamentally not preventative.

Regardless of the connection to the Zika virus, it is a fact of human existence that some children develop conditions like microcephaly, and that these children deserve to be protected and cared for throughout their lives, in accordance with our obligation to safeguard all human life, healthy and disabled, with equal commitment, leaving no one behind."

Abortion is illegal in most of Latin America, where the numbers of children being born with Microcephaly is extremely high.

Many are seeking to buy “abortion tablets” online in a last ditch attempt to lower the risk of giving birth to a child who will suffer in the future.These children are born with abnormal skulls which leads to severe development issues as the child grows. It's clear that the Vatican supports the use of condoms to prevent the spread, but maintains its stance that abortion is “an evil act."

New guidelines for countries affected by Zika outbreak

With growing public awareness of the Zika situation, which is spread by mosquito bites, and can be transmitted through sexual contact and blood transfusions, the World Health Organization has issued new advice to those that have recently travelled to affected areas. To practice safer sex which include the use of condoms or to consider abstinence for at least a month.

What is the answer?

Whilst the message from the Pope is a relief for some who are living in the affected area, it remains certain that many unborn children are likely to be affected by the Zika virus. The impact on the medical and social resources of some of the poorest economies in the world are yet again going to face a new challenge. The care of these children will fall to those that are unable to afford proper medical or ongoing care, which in itself is creating another issue to be solved.

Is the Catholic Church going to assist these poor innocent children from suffering in the future? We shall wait and see the outcome in years to come.

WHO continues to work with partners globally, addressing this latest outbreak, with the hope of finding a solution to the rapid spread of the Zika virus, having declared it an emergency on February 1st, 2016.

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