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Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Vatican Considers Endorsing Condoms... But Special Conditions Will Apply

Even the most traditional and conservative of institutions cannot avoid the realities of the modern world forever. A little over a year since his ordination, Pope Benedict XVI is taking the bold step of considering permitting Catholics to use condoms under very specific conditions.

Condoms would be endorsed only as a method to prevent the spread of AIDS and HIV, and not as a form of birth control. Under one possible scenario, the Vatican would allow the use of condoms only for married couples where one partner is infected.

Even this very limited endorsement, in its speculative stages, is generating heated debate. Catholic conservatives who oppose any change in the church's position are already viewing it as an opening to misinterpretation and confusion over what was once a very clear (if controversial) doctrine. "That will be picked up as 'Church O.K.'s Condoms,' and that would seem to undermine the whole church teaching on sexuality and marriage," said the Rev. Brian V. Johnstone, a moral theologian at the Alphonsian Academy in Rome.

But others see it as simply acknowledging a global health crisis, especially in Africa, where the church is growing, and where AIDS is rampant. Plus, they argue, only a pope such as Benedict, whose credentials as a moral hardliner are undisputed, could introduce such an idea without it being perceived as a slippery slope. Though, as Rev. Johnstone says, it may be viewed as such anyway.

Source: New York Times

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