In the News 2010

Women as well as men can use condoms, declares Vatican as it clarifies Pope’s comments


The Pope has said for the first time that condoms may be used by women, but only in the fight against HIV.

The Vatican moved yesterday to clarify weekend reports that the Pope had said condom use was a lesser evil than transmitting HIV.

It was generally thought that he was referring only to condom use by HIV-positive male prostitutes.

But Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi told reporters yesterday that he asked the Pope whether he intended his comments to apply only to male prostitutes.

He said Benedict XVI replied that it really didn’t matter, that the important thing was the person in question took into consideration the life of the other.

The issue follows a series of interviews the Pope has given to a German journalist, Peter Seewald, for a book published yesterday, Light of the World. Excerpts had been published on Saturday.

It is understood that confusion arose because the Italian trans-lation of the book used the feminine form of the word for prostitute, while the original German used the masculine.

Lombardi said: ‘I personally asked the Pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine. He told me no. The problem is this . . . It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.

‘This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point.’

Elsewhere in the book, Benedict XVI reaffirms the Vatican opposition to homosexual acts and ‘artificial’ contraception and reaffirms the inviolability of marriage between man and woman.

But by broadening the condom comments to apply to women, the Pope is saying that condom use in heterosexual relations is the lesser evil than passing HIV on to a partner.

The Pope’s comments have generated heated debate, mostly positive in places such as Africa which has been devastated by the HIV virus and where the church has been criticised for its opposition to condom use.

In Washington, a spokesman for Catholics for Choice Ð who support a woman’s right to follow her conscience Ð said the Vatican’s clarification was highly significant.

Jon O’Brien, president of the organisation, said: ‘Some people have criticised the glacial pace at which the Catholic hierarchy moves. Certainly, this acceptance of condom use is more than two decades too late.

‘But it has now happened, and organisations that have been hesitant to provide condoms to those living with HIV and Aids must move immediately to put this new teaching into action.’

This article originally appeared in the Daily Mail.


Catholics for Choice