Pope Francis Says Contraception May Be 'Lesser of Two Evils' During Zika Virus Outbreak

Pope Francis commented on the Zika virus outbreak during his trip to Mexico.

The Zika virus is usually mild, but has been associated with a rise of the alarming birth defect, characterized by an abnormally small head and brain, often leading to significant developmental delays.

The pope compared the situation to a decree issued by Pope Paul VI, which said nuns in Africa could use contraception due to the threat of rape.

"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 vaccines against these mosquitoes that carry this disease. This needs to be worked on."

The virus is most commonly spread from mosquitoes to humans, but it has been documented to spread through sexual contact and blood transfusions.