In the News 2010

Pope must be clear on condoms


Only last year, Pope Benedict XVI reiterated the teaching of the Catholic Church on the use of condoms. He opposed it, even in the interest of combating AIDS in Africa. Contrary to the general scientific view, he said it worsened the problem.

Now he appears to have reversed his opinion. In a long interview to be published tomorrow, he says that it may be justified in order to protect “others” from infection.

More information and analysis will be necessary for anyone who wants to form a firm judgment. Evidently problems of translation are hampering understanding.

According to the English translation, he gives the case of a male prostitute as someone needing protection. But the Italian version refers to a female prostitute. More puzzlingly, the Pope calls the interview “the first step in a movement towards a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality”. This certainly does not clarify the Church’s position on the massive issues surrounding sexuality.

More encouraging are the views of Catholic and other campaigners for condoms as a means of combating AIDS. John O’Brien, head of Catholics for Choice in the United States, calls the statement “a victory for common sense and reason”. If he has interpreted it correctly, it means that the Church’s opposition to a method of containing the spread of AIDS has come to an end. Nobody will welcome that more ardently than the priests in Africa who have witnessed so many deaths.

This article originally appeared in The Independent.

Catholics for Choice