Supermodel Gisele Bundchen stepped into the debate over birth control and sexual behaviour in Brazil on Tuesday, saying Church opposition to condom use was ridiculous and women should have the right to choose on abortion.
Gisele is idolised by many young women in Brazil, the world's largest Roman Catholic country, where debate over sexual issues has intensified around a visit by Pope Benedict last month.
The Pope stressed the Church's firm opposition to abortion and contraception and railed against sex outside of marriage. The Brazilian beauty, one of the world's top models, told Folha de S.Paulo newspaper in an interview that when the Church made its laws centuries ago, women were expected to be virgins.
"Today no one is a virgin when they get married ... show me someone who's a virgin!" she said. Asked about abortion, she said a woman should have the right to choose what is best for her.
"If she thinks she doesn't have the money or the emotional condition to raise a child, why should she give birth?" Gisele, who had just arrived from New York to take part in Rio de Janeiro's Fashion Week, also defended condom use. "It's ridiculous to ban contraceptives -- you only have to think of the diseases that are transmitted without them. I think it should be compulsory to use a contraceptive."
The Brazilian government has clashed with the church over anti-AIDS programmes in which it distributes millions of free condoms and Health Minister Jose Temporao has called for a national referendum on abortion. Other Brazilian celebrities have fallen foul of the Vatican over sex issues.
Singer Daniela Mercury was banned from performing at a Vatican Christmas concert in 2005 because she took part in a campaign promoting condom use to prevent AIDS. She denied rumors she was pregnant. "Of course I want to have a family in the future. But not at this moment."