Pope Francis was on his way home from Mexico Wednesday when he was asked about abortion and the use of contraception in combating the dangers of the Zika virus, which has been linked to severe birth defects in infants born to infected mothers.
The pope said that there is a “clear moral difference” between terminating a pregnancy and “preventing” one, according to the Associated Press. This breaks significantly from the position of Brazilian church officials, who just days ago said that ”Contraceptives are not a solution. There is not a single change in the church’s position.”
Though the link between the Zika virus outbreak and the birth defect known as microcephaly has not been demonstrated conclusively, it has been alarming enough for some countries to suggest women simply not become pregnant while there is a risk of infection.
If Francis means what it sounds like he’s saying, this would be the first significant crack in the Catholic Church’s long-standing and extreme stance against the use of any birth control.