Sunday, 21 November 2010

Condoms: what the Pope actually said

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Further to yesterday's news that the Pope had suggested condom use could be acceptable in certain circumstances to prevent HIV infection, I just wanted to share something I came across via the Times' religion correspondent Ruth Gledhill. It's a blogpost by Catholic journalist Pia de Solenni, who used to work for the Vatican paper L’Osservatore Romano, which broke the news yesterday. De Solenni has provided the full English version of what the Pope told journalist Peter Seewald in relation to condoms, including this key passage:
"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, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality."
In de Solenni's analysis, this means:
"...he’s not endorsing condoms. He’s saying that it could be the first step of a particular individual to realize that their action is wrong. His example of a male prostitute is very particular. The Church doesn’t believe that male prostitution is a good thing; so it’s not going to endorse anything that would facilitate the behavior even if it’s ostensibly with the good intention of protecting one’s self or another. That good intention doesn’t change the nature of the behavior itself."
So this may not represent the major departure that some headlines have portrayed it as. The Vatican is still clearly opposed to condoms, but some may see it as a sign of progress that the Pope is prepared to acknowledge that there is any circumstance where their use may be acceptable. One interesting aspect of this is why the Pope has chosen to make these remarks now - is it an indication that a further liberalisation is possible?

What do you make of it all? Do share in the comments.
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