Catholic Condom Confusion

Recent comments made by Pope Benedict XVI, where he said condoms could be used in certain circumstances, have caused some confusion amongst Catholics.

The Pope made his comments in the recently released Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Sign of the Times by Peter Seewald.

The Pope said that there could be certain cases were it would be seen as the lesser of two evils if the use of condoms was to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDS infection.

He said that “In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality.”

For this he used the example of a gay male prostitute, who is infected with HIV would use a condom in order to reduce the risk of passing on the infection, rather than someone using a condom to prevent pregnancy.

“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility,” said Pope Benedict.

Father Martin Dolan of St Nicholas of Myra church on Francis Street said “He (Pope Benedict) is only saying what everyone else has been saying for the last thirty years. These comments are not new, wonderful or helpful.”

“It (the issue of contraception) has created a lot of pain for people in relation to family planning. It would have been really helpful, if he had said it thirty years ago,” Father Dolan finished.

The Pope’s recent comments do not change the Church’s stance on the issue of contraception; he said that in extremely rare cases the use of condoms may be the lesser of two evils if they are to prevent the spread of infections.

Trying to clarify the confusion created by the remarks, director of the Vatican press office Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said, “The Pope considers an exceptional situation in which the exercise of sexuality represents a true risk to the life of another.”

Fr Lombardi also said that what the Pope had said could not “be defined as a revolutionary shift” as it was what many theologians had believed for many years.

The Reverend Didier Lemaire, from a parish in Johannesburg said that the Pope’s comments helped back up what Catholic AIDS workers have been saying for years when talking about AIDS prevention.

“What the pope is saying, many priests have been saying for a long time,” said Rev Lemaire. He said that deciding not to use condoms when people have AIDS goes against the commandment “Thou shalt not kill.”

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