Saturday, November 20, 2010

Pope Benedict: Condom use acceptable in certain cases

Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times, is a book based on a series of interviews with Pope Benedict.  In it, Benedict appears to be changing his tune on condom use.  According to an AFP story:

In a series of interviews published in his native German, the 83-year-old Benedict is asked whether "the Catholic Church is not fundamentally against the use of condoms."

"It of course does not see it as a real and moral solution," the pope replies.

"In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality," said the head of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics...
To illustrate his apparent shift in position, Benedict offered the example of a male prostitute using a condom.
"There may be justified individual cases, for example when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be ... a first bit of responsibility, to re-develop the understanding that not everything is permitted and that one may not do everything one wishes," Benedict was quoted as saying.

Let that sink in for a minute.  The pope is saying condom use may be acceptable if you are a male prostitute...  What exactly is this example supposed to illustrate? 

I would love to say that maybe this is a first step toward the Catholic Church becoming a bit more progressive, but I suspect something else completely.  It seems as though the pontiff is trying to seem more reasonable about condom use, while the only instances where it would be acceptable are obviously immoral to the church for other reasons (unless they're about to claim that male prostitutes are doing god's work).  He's trying to appear willing to compromise, while actually making no effective change to the church's stance at all. 

Until the pope, or some other senior church members, recants the ridiculous things said about condom use in Africa to reduce the spread of AIDS, it is impossible to thing anything but the status quo of the Catholic Church.
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