When he returned to Rome yesterday after a trip to Mexico, Pope Francis said women who live near the Zika virus should be able to use birth control.
This breaks from traditional Roman Catholic policy that bans Catholic women from using contraception.
Francis talked about the Catholic Church and called birth control a “lesser evil” for women in regions affected by Zika. He said that abortion of those fetuses was not an option for Catholics.
The Zika virus is carried by mosquitoes. In South America, the virus has been linked to microencephalitis. Babies with that condition are born with smaller brains and skulls than normal. No cure or treatment is known.
The pope also commented about the U.S. race for president. He was asked about Republican candidate Donald Trump, who has called for a wall to be built between the U.S. and Mexico.
"A person who thinks only about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian," the Pope told journalists at a press conference.
Trump also has called for deporting undocumented immigrants and not allowing Muslims into the U.S., even if they hold U.S. passports.
The pope’s comments came after his sermon on immigration at the U.S.-Mexico border.
He pleaded for governments to open their hearts to the “human tragedy” of forced migration.
Francis told worshippers migrants “are our brothers and sisters, who are being expelled by poverty and violence, drug trafficking and organized crime.”
Pope Francis stopped short of demanding that the United States open all its borders. The pope is concerned about Mexican citizens wishing to escape drug cartel killings and corruption.
Before Mass, the pope paused at the U.S.-Mexican border for a prayer in memory of migrants who died trying to reach the United States. He also blessed some migrants on the American side of the fence.
I’m Kathleen Struck.
Jim Dresbach adapted this story for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.
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Words in This Story
pope – n. the head of the Roman Catholic Church
migrants – n. a person who goes from one place to another especially to find work
plead – v. to ask for something in a serious and emotional way
cartel – n. a group of businesses that agree to fix prices so they all will make more money