Condoms get Papal nod

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By Adam Zunder

A statement made by Pope Benedict XVI in a new book suggests that using condoms might be less taboo than the Vatican had previously suggested.

The comments appeared in a book entitled Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times, which was released Tuesday. The book is based on interviews conducted between the Pope and a German journalist. In the quoted interview, the Pope stated that he believes that condom usage may be appropriate for male prostitutes, as an indicator of a “first step” of moral responsibility.

Benedict drew considerable fire for downplaying the usefulness of condoms in preventing the spread of AIDS while visiting Africa in 2009. The move towards the acceptance of condoms marks a clear departure from Pope Benedict’s perspective as stated previously.

Officially, the Catholic Church opposes the usage of any contraceptive method, including condoms. The Vatican was quick to insist that the Pope is not adjusting existing doctrine.

It’s difficult to determine the exact significance of the Pope’s statement. While it’s encouraging to see the Church approaching contemporary issues from a more contemporary perspective, some insist that the Pope’s words were too vague.

It’s tempting to criticize the incompatibility of the Church’s stance on homosexual relationships with their acceptance of condom use in this case. However, a sweeping reversal of Catholic beliefs is an unreasonable expectation.

A statement like this will at least prompt discussion in religious circles. The Church has long been subjected to quiet pressure to loosen their opposition against condoms—pressure coming from inside and outside the church. Approving of condoms for male prostitutes, even in an unofficial capacity, will likely help those struggling to negotiate faith and contraception.

While the Pope’s statement may not have been a categorical endorsement of condom usage, it represents a move towards a more inclusive and proactive understanding of contraception.

Hopefully it isn’t the last move the Church is willing to make.

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