French Bishops Challenge Vatican

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PARIS: Breaking from Vatican doctrine, the French Bishops Conference has broken with Rome, giving its reluctant approval of the use of condoms to prevent the spread of the HIV virus. In a 235-page report titled "AIDS: Society in Question," the bishops conceded that condoms may be a weapon of last resort against the spread of the fatal disease. TIME Paris bureau chief Thomas Sancton notes that the bishops were careful to stress teachings on the importance of monogamy within marriage and abstinence before. Of the French Catholics, Sancton notes: "They haven't been as rebellious as the Germans or the Dutch, which gives this report more weight than it might otherwise have had. This does not mean the Church condones the use of condoms as a contraceptive." While the bishops were quick to emphasize that their report dealt with a number of other AIDS-related issues, their defiance of the official position of the Catholic Church is the heart of the report.