Like mosquitos that carry the disease, a story by the Religion News Service buzzes with Catholic concerns over how to address the Zika outbreak currently coursing through Latin America. The article strains mightily to provide a many-sided view of the matter, but not always successfully, and not always originally.
The headliner is a warning this week by Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Honduras not to use abortion in the fight against the virus. As RNS says, Zika is a prime suspect in microcephaly, in which children are born with small heads and brains. If a pregnant woman is bitten by a mosquito that's carrying the virus, children may be born with the defect.
Apparently, Maradiaga read someone recommending so-called "therapeutic abortion," or terminating a pregnancy for risk of abnormalities like microcephaly. That freaked him, according to RNS:
"We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion," the cardinal said in his homily, according to Honduran media reports.
"Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist," he said. "Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives."
It hasn't come to that yet, but RNS notes that the World Health Organization declared an international public health emergency. And some Latin American officials have recommended women there to delay pregnancy for up to two years.
RNS is right to highlight his words; as it says, he is a top adviser to Pope Francis as well as chief shepherd of Honduras. It could have added that Maradiaga was also considered a papabile, or papal candidate, in 2005 and 2013. That's especially rarefied atmosphere.
But the cardinal'ss comments were just the first few paragraphs of this article -- what we in journalism call a shirttail lede -- for a more indepth treatment: