Pope’s Comments on Condoms Sow Confusion
November 22, 2010
By RACHEL DONADIO
But ever since the Vatican’s official newspaper published highlights on Saturday, the book has created the opposite effect: widespread confusion, most notably over the pope’s comments that in select cases, such as those involving male prostitutes, condom use might be a step toward acting responsibly to reduce “the risk of infection.”
AIDS activists are calling the pope’s comments a breakthrough, while members of the church hierarchy and some Catholic commentators say the comments have been misconstrued. The Vatican itself has furiously played down Benedict’s words, or rather contextualized them, noting that the pope was not changing church doctrine banning contraception, or justifying condom use — even though the Vatican newspaper clearly used the phrase “justified in some cases.”
On Sunday, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, added to the confusion. He called Benedict’s remarks unprecedented, the first time such comments had come “from the mouth of a pope,” but he added that they were “not a revolutionary turn,” as they echoed the stance of other moral theologians — and had been offered “colloquially,” not as part of official church teaching.