Religion: The Bishops' Split on AIDS

A controversy over condoms divides the Catholic hierarchy

However they may squabble behind closed doors, America's Roman Catholic bishops have always sought to display a united front in public, on matters ranging from nuclear arms to the U.S. economy. Last week that carefully orchestrated unity crumpled when the bishops divided over the issue of whether education on the use of condoms to limit AIDS infection is morally acceptable.

The feuding erupted over portions of a 30-page document released by the nation's bishops that seemed at least to tolerate such instruction as a lesser evil. The hierarchy's 50-member administrative board argued that public education should stress the traditional Christian virtue...