The Guardian is reporting that, "In a departure from...Catholic teaching, Pope Francis suggests women exposed to the Zika virus could use artificial contraception.."
The article continues:
"Speaking to reporters on the papal plane as he returned to Rome after a visit to Mexico, Francis obliquely suggested that artificial contraception could be used in extreme situations to avoid pregnancy.
Unlike abortion, 'avoiding pregnancy is not an absolute evil' and in certain circumstances it maybe 'the lesser evil.'"
In the words of Fr. Hardon, "The grave sinfulness of contraception is taught infallibly by the Church's ordinary universal teaching authority [Magisterium]."
It is important for Catholics to understand [and to acknowledge] that the Magisterium can and does teach infallibly on matters of faith and morals in the ordinary day-to-day execution of its pastoral mission provided that some very specific conditions are fulfilled. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church [Lumen Gentium] of the Second Vatican Council clearly described these conditions:
"Although the Bishops, taken individually, do not enjoy the privilege of infallibility, they do, however, proclaim the doctrine of Christ infallibly on the following conditions: namely, when, even though dispersed throughout the entire world but preserving for all that amongst themselves and with Peter's successor the bond of communion, in their authoritative teaching concerning matters of faith or morals, they are in agreement that a particular teaching is to be held definitively and absolutely." (LG, No. 25).
And what the Fathers of Vatican II add to this passage is also of critical importance:
"This is still more clearly the case when, assembled in an ecumenical council, they are, for the universal Church, teachers of and judges in matters of faith and morals, whose judgments must be adhered to with the loyal and obedient assent of faith."
And what do the Vatican II Fathers have to say about artificial contraception? In Gaudium et Spes, No. 51, we read:
"...when there is question of harmonizing conjugal love with the responsible transmission of life, the moral aspects of any procedure does not depend solely on sincere intentions or on an evaluation of motives, but must be determined by objective standards. These, based on the nature of the human person and his acts, preserve the full sense of mutual self-giving and human procreation in the context of true love. Such a goal cannot be achieved unless the virtue of conjugal chastity is sincerely practiced. Relying on these principles, sons of the Church may not undertake methods of birth control which are found blameworthy by the teaching authority of the Church in its unfolding of the divine law. "
Pope Francis is directly contradicting the infallible teaching of Pope Paul VI in his Encyclical Letter Humanae Vitae, No. 14:
"Similarly excluded is every action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act, or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible.
To justify conjugal acts made intentionally infecund, one cannot invoke as valid reasons the lesser evil, or the fact that such acts would constitute a whole together with the fecund acts already performed or to follow later, and hence would share in one and the same moral goodness. In truth, if it is sometimes licit to tolerate a lesser evil in order to avoid a greater evil or to promote a greater good, it is not licit, even for the gravest reasons, to do evil so that good may follow therefrom; that is, to make into the object of a positive act of the will something which is intrinsically disorder, and hence unworthy of the human person, even when the intention is to safeguard or promote individual, family or social well-being. Consequently it is an error to think that a conjugal act which is deliberately made infecund and so is intrinsically dishonest could be made honest and right by the ensemble of a fecund conjugal life."