The Telegraph is reporting that Pope Benedict XVI is moving the church’s position on condom use — slightly — to allow for the moral use of condoms in some narrow circumstances. But it’s coming in an interview for a book rather than an official pronouncement:
While he restated the Catholic Church’s staunch objections to contraception because it believes that it interferes with the creation of life, he argued that using a condom to preserve life and avoid death could be a responsible act – even outside marriage.
Asked whether “the Catholic Church is not fundamentally against the use of condoms,” he replied: “It of course does not see it as a real and moral solution. 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.”
He stressed that abstinence was the best policy in fighting the disease but in some circumstances it was better for a condom to be used if it protected human life.
“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 redevelop the understanding that not everything is permitted and that one may not do everything one wishes.
“But it is not the proper way to deal with the horror of HIV infection.”
The announcement is in a book to be published by the Vatican this week based on the first face-to-face interview given by a pope.
I’ll take this with a rather large block of salt. The Catholic Church has often spoken out of both sides of its proverbial mouth. And even if this turns out to be an official church position, it’s a millimeter-sized step in the right direction when what it needs is a thousand-mile drive.