Pope Benedict XVI says in a new book that condoms can be justified for male prostitutes seeking to stop the spread of HIV, a stunning comment for a church criticized for its opposition to condoms and for a pontiff who has blamed them for making the AIDS crisis worse.
The pope made the comments in a book-length interview with a German journalist, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times," which is being released Tuesday. The Vatican newspaper ran excerpts on Saturday.
Church teaching has long opposed condoms because they are a form of artificial contraception, although it has never released an explicit policy about condoms and HIV. The Vatican has been harshly criticized for its opposition.
Benedict said that condoms are not a moral solution. But he said in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, they could be justified "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection."
Benedict called it "a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way of living sexuality."
There have been no reports regarding whether or not it is permissable for condoms to be worn in cases where no funds are voluntarily exchanged before sex, such as when Priests engage in sex with altar boys (payments are usually not received by the altar boys until ordered by a court). The Pope's statments on the matter leave many moral questions unanswered. For example, are pleasure enhanced condoms morally justifiable if they lead to increased sexual satisfaction? If pleasure enhanced condoms are not morally justifiable, would lemon flavored unlubricated condoms be less sinful than lubricated ultra thin spiral ribbed strawberry flavored condoms? The Pope also neglected to provide guidance regarding the use of condoms when engaging in sex with female and/or transsuexual prostitutes.
This article contributed by Tom Blanton of Richmond, Virginia.