Pope Francis also spoke at length about his historic meeting last Friday with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill and about the concerns of Greek Catholics in Ukraine who feel betrayed by the encounter. He said he understood these fears, expressed by Greek Catholic Archbishop Sviatoslav Schevchuk, adding that he is entitled to his own ideas regarding the conflict in Ukraine. It’s important to take the comments in context, the Pope insists, since Archbishop Schevchuk also describes the encounter as “a good thing” which he hopes will lead to further dialogue.
Asked about responses to the Zika virus which is causing birth defects, especially across Latin America, the Pope stressed that abortion is a crime which can never be justified as a lesser evil and which goes against the Hippocratic oath that doctors must take. Using contraceptives to avoid pregnancy can be acceptable in difficult situations, he said, noting that Pope Paul VI authorized nuns in Africa to do the same half a century ago when they were threatened with rape.