Thursday, Dec. 09, 2010

The Pope Doesn't Quite Endorse Condoms

The headline around the world was that Pope Benedict XVI had endorsed the use of condoms, albeit under special circumstances. What the Pope actually said was subtly different. He still strongly disapproves of the use of condoms as contraception. The specific example he mentioned in the interview that made headlines, that of a male prostitute choosing to use a condom in a conscious choice to prevent HIV infection, is couched as "a first step in the direction of 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." In short, if it allows you to learn how to be good — and eventually learn not to have to depend on condoms — then, just maybe, you can use a condom. Conservative Catholics decried what they describe as relativisim — one of Benedict's bêtes noires — creeping into his philosophy. The Papal statement, however, appears to have allowed Catholic groups engaged in the global battle against AIDS more flexibility in dealing with the disease and those who suffer from it.