Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Pope's condom comments apply to women

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Breaking news just now is that the Pope's spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, has said that Benedict XVI's remarks regarding the use of condoms, which some had suggested may have only applied to gay prostitutes at risk of transmitting HIV, do in fact cover women as well (an Italian translation of the Pope's interview with Peter Seewald had used the feminine for "prostitute", while the German original used the masculine):
"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."
This helps to clear up some of the confusion over the meaning of the Pope's remarks – it would seem that some of the headlines concerning a "U-turn" were a little premature, but there does appear to have been a change in tone from an organisation that has long given the impression that it is opposed to condoms in all circumstances.

Interestingly, it would seem the debate over meaning extends to the Vatican itself. In an intriguing blogpost, Catholic journalist Damian Thompson suggests that an internal battle is taking place within the Church between liberalisers who would like to see the stance on condoms relaxed and conservatives who are fiercely opposed to any such change.
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