Pope condom U-turn welcomed

2010-11-21 17:44

Vatican City - Campaigners against the spread of Aids welcomed a U-turn by Pope Benedict XVI on the use of condoms on Sunday, saying it marked a historic break with the past which would save lives.

In a series of interviews to appear in a book published this week, Benedict said that while the use of condoms should not be seen as a "moral solution", he stepped back from the Vatican's blanket ban on all forms of contraception.

"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.

Benedict sparked an international outcry in March 2009 on a visit to Aids-ravaged Africa when he told reporters that the distribution of condoms could even aggravate the pandemic.

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 in the new book.

"But it is not the proper way to deal with the horror of HIV infection."


Benedict reiterated that condom use alone would not solve the problem of HIV/Aids. "More must happen," he said.

While some campaigners said that the pope's comments did not go anywhere near far enough, there was a general consensus they would help in the fight against Aids.

The head of the UN agency leading the international campaign against Aids said Benedict's comments were a "significant and positive step forward".

"This move recognises that responsible sexual behaviour and the use of condoms have important roles in HIV prevention," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of UNAids.

Sidibe said he had held far-reaching discussions with the Vatican on HIV prevention issues in 2009.

"Together we can build a world with zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero Aids-related deaths," he added.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed the pope's comments as "welcome" and "realistic".

Aids is serious

"This shows that the pope and the Vatican are conscious that Aids is one of the most serious illnesses that the world faces, that it affects millions of lives and that we must work together against it," Ban told Portugal's Publico newspaper on the sidelines of this weekend's Nato summit in Lisbon.

In South Africa, where an estimated 5.7 million of the 48 million population are HIV positive, there was also a cautious welcome from the main anti-AIDS lobby but a warning that the pope needed to be much more unequivocal.

While calling his comments "a step in the right direction", Vuyiseka Dubula, general secretary of the Treatment Action Campaign, said they "still fall below what we expect" from the Church.

"We still don't agree with condom use only in certain circumstances. We think that the pope needs to do much better than that because his message can be misunderstood by his followers," said Dubula.

Franco Grillini, president of Italian gay rights group Arcigay, said the Vatican appeared to now acknowledge the harm caused by its previous stance.

"Finally! If the pope recognises, even if it's only in certain circumstances, the importance of using condoms, it means that he recognises having made mistakes in the past," said Grillini.

Veteran gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who helped co-ordinate the Protest the Pope campaign during Benedict's state visit to Britain earlier this year, said the comments represented a "volte-face" by the Vatican.

"Benedict seems to realise that his unrelenting, blanket opposition to condoms has damaged his own authority and that of the Church," said Tatchell.

But Wanda Nowicka, president of Poland's family planning federation, said that while the comments could be seen as revolutionary for those within the Catholic Church, their impact would be limited.

"It will only be truly revolutionary when the Church recognises the right of people to determine their own procreation," she told AFP.

  • Shongololo - 2010-11-21 20:25

    maceye I don't mean to offend you, but you are wrong. Catholicism is based on pagan beliefs. It is geared around placing man over the divine. Catholicism created the Jesuits, the Jesuits created Free Masonary. If you read about Albert Pike's "Morals and Dogma" he is the chap who wrote the manual for the Scottish Free Masons and you will see clearly there how Catholicism is involved. It is not just about changing the Sabbath to Sunday. That by the way was done to bring it inline with sun worship. The Catholics even changed the ten commandments to remove the Sabbath from it. But I am sure you knew this already. You don't have to like Walter Veith, he only quotes and shows video with proof that backs up his statements. He makes no statements that cannot be backed up by quotes from the Vatican themself.

      Shongololo - 2010-11-21 21:03

      Correction: it is the second commandment that was removed from the Catholic 10 commandments. Because the Catholic church has idols, the commandment was removed. The Sabbath law is still there, but they did not keep it on the Saturday, instead they moved it to Sunday. They also created Easter which is named after the celebration of Ishtar. "Ishtar", which is pronounced "Easter" was a day that commemorated the resurrection of one of their gods that they called "Tammuz", who was believed to be the only begotten son of the moon-goddess and the sun-god. There is more interesting information regarding other celecrations which where created by the Catholics. Regarding their dress, why does the pope have the crescent moon from Islam on the top of his staff? Why does he wear the Maltese cross, when only the priest of Horus was supposed to wear that? Many more interesting questions, which have been answered by Walter Veith.

      maceye - 2010-11-22 08:27

      Have you ever done your research regarding catholicism, go and find out what the church really teaches regarding its beliefs, you are biased because of seven day adventist beliefs, which I might add is unchristian, regarding Sunday worship, the Lord rose on Sunday, which basically was the day Christianity came into existence. Jesus is God, and He has the right to change the day to Sunday. As for Easter, it based on the Jewish passover. If you really understood your bible, you'll know that Easter has direct links with the Jewish festiavl of sacrificing a lamb. You are simply clutching at straws,why don't you visit, there are even forums set-up to discuss these various topics, or you to chicken to see what the church really teaches, hmmm.

      maceye - 2010-11-22 08:34

      OK, as for sun worship, say you are right, it must probably be the greatest deception pulled off by the catholic church, its so deceptive that even the billion followers don't even know they are worshiping pagan deities. Good grief, get a grip, have you ever stepped into catholic church and done your own research and not rely on conspiricy theories to support your belief system.

  • Crest Publishing - 2010-11-21 20:31

    Spookoctopus Maybe it will help paedophile priests?

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