Added by Monique Robinson on November 22, 2010
One year ago, Pope Benedict XVI’s asserted concerns that condoms could make the Aids crisis worse, but his most recent opinion is that condom use could be, for some people, notably male prostitutes, a first step towards moral responsibility “in the intention of reducing the risk of infection”.
The pope said the statement, due to be published in the book Light Of The World: The Pope, The Church And The Signs Of The Times by author Peter Seewald, is of his own personal opinion, and not an official church statement.
Vatican officials said the comment is nothing “revolutionary” and that it neither “reforms nor changes” the teachings of the church.
Although the current ban on contraception will remain in place, Alberto Melloni, Italian church historian, said the pope’s remark “opened without a doubt a crack that cannot help but have consequences”.
The pressure on the Vatican to lift the 1968 “Humanae Vitae” ban on condom and contraception use among Catholics has grown with the rapid increase in HIV infections, which in the last three decades have been passed on to some 60 million people and which has lead to 25 million Aids-related deaths during the same period.
Other members of the church, including Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who rivaled Benedict in the 2005 election, have called for a “humanitarian gesture” on the condom issue, while others, particularly in Africa, have argued that condom use should be considered in marriages where one partner is HIV-positive.
The United Nations called the remarks “a significant and positive step” in the work to combat Aids, but also noted that out of the 80 per cent of HIV infections that are caused through sexual transmission, only four to ten percent is caused by sex between men.