OK, the headline is a bit of a stretch. However, apparently the Pope did make a reference to problem of the Zika virus and the many babies being born with significant neurological defects.
Here’s the quote from the CNN news release: “Pope Francis suggested that contraceptives may be used to prevent the spread of the Zika virus, despite the church’s longstanding ban on most forms of birth control.”
There is a precedent. In the 1960’s, nuns serving in part of Africa were permitted to use a form of birth control in case they might be raped and become pregnant. I suppose women should be grateful for such small favors floated to them by the men in skirts who run much of the religious world.
But back to the main point: contraception is still considered “evil,” but possibly the lesser of two evils at the moment.
Just an aside: despite most Central and South American countries being hugely Roman Catholic, the vast, vast majority of people do use some sort of birth control. In other words, the whole “no contraception” thing is routinely ignored anyway, particularly in the more sophisticated population centers. The church has proven itself, yet once more, to be irrelevant in some of the most pivotal decisions that people must make.
Nonetheless, in the eyes of the RC church and all of its skirted men in charge, it is “evil” for a woman to be able to live without fear that a pregnancy might be forced upon her.
Really? Is religion about continuing to oppress those who have long been victims of oppression anyway? Well, yes, if we ask the minorities, females, gays, lesbians, transgendered, anyone who doesn’t look and act like the people who currently hold the power to make binding decisions on everyone else.
Is this what God is about? Is this what Jesus taught? What about these words?
“Whoever wants to be first must be least of all and the servant of all.”
Jesus reached for a little child, placed him among the Twelve, and embraced him. Then he said, “Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me isn’t actually welcoming me but rather the one who sent me.” (Mark 9:35-37, CEB).
Jesus uses the child to represent the least of society. In the first century middle eastern world, children were not the household gods as they are now. They were economic resources and vulnerable to all sorts of exploitation. The value of women resided almost entirely in their ability to produce as rapidly as possible large numbers of these living economic resources.
We’d like to think we’ve come a long way since then because we work hard to teach “Jesus loves me” to every child possible. But I genuinely wonder if we’ve made much progress.
We still busily marginalize the powerless and voiceless.
This could be what the craziness of this election year is telling us: those very powerless and voiceless ones have just had it. They’ve had it with the elite (be they political or religious) running all the shows and hoarding all the advantages. They’ve had it with being fed the stale crumbs while the aristocratic few feast on the plump and the fresh.
The political and religious elite have become less and less likely to have any real understanding of what it is like to live in fear and constant scarcity.
Add a severely neurologically damaged child to a family already on the edge of their resources and see them tumble over the edge to absolute desperation.
Let the “free market” push housing prices so high that a two income family, both earning minimum wage, can’t even afford a decent apartment with access to schools that might provide a respectable education to their children and watch the discontent grow.
Require the poorest of the poor give ten percent of their income to the church “because God will make you rich if you do so” while the fat-cat megachurch and prosperity gospel “pastors” build mansions and insist they need their own private jets for transportation on the back of the poverty-striken and watch people walk away in droves from religious organizations.
We’ve got the makings for another French Revolution on our hands.
I admit I’m trying myself to figure out how I landed at the French Revolution from the Pope’s acknowledgement that maybe, just maybe, some birth control might be a slight help in this serious public health crisis. But these are the meanderings of my rather unusual mind on this February morning where, here in north Texas, signs of spring are everywhere and my garden calls.
Spring always reminds me that there is indeed a resurrection after death. May we see one as well in our political and religious morass that envelopes much of the US right now.