November 20th, 2010
03:58 PM ET

Pope says condoms may be OK in some circumstances

Pope Benedict XVI said in comments released Saturday that the use of condoms may be morally acceptable in some cases to prevent the spread of AIDS, possibly foreshadowing a shift in the Roman Catholic Church's stance on the issue.

The pope's remarks outline an exception to the church's long-held policy against the use of artificial contraception, including condoms.

The pontiff, speaking to the author of a book that will be published next week, cited the example of a prostitute.

"There could be single cases that can be justified, for instance when a prostitute uses a condom, and this can be a first step towards a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, to develop again the awareness of the fact that not all is allowed and that one cannot do everything one wants," Benedict said.

The Vatican newspaper on Saturday released excerpts from the book, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times," written by German journalist Peter Seewald and pubilshed by Ignatius Press.

"What makes this newsworthy is that he's talking about an exception, where there were no exceptions whatsoever before," said James Martin, a New York Jesuit priest and author.

"Just that the discussion is happening is significant," he added.

CNN Senior Vatican Analyst John Allen cautioned that Benedict's comments do not rise to the level of official Vatican policy, but show the pontiff has flexibility in the church's opposition to birth control.

Allen said that a portion of the book refers to condom use among male prostitutes.

"I think the point he was trying to make, when somebody is using a condom, not so much to prevent new life, which has always been the Catholic Church's big concern, but to prevent the transmission of disease than it would be OK," Allen told CNN.

Although Benedict did not mention it, his statements indicate he may also find condoms appropriate in the case of heterosexual couples where one of the partners has a sexually transmitted disease, Allen added.

Catholic theologians and a special Vatican commission have previously said that condoms may be acceptable in some cases to prevent AIDS, Allen wrote in a blog Saturday.

But Benedict had kept silent on the issue.

Allen said he does not think the pontiff's comments signal a sea change in the church's broader birth control policy, as condoning the use of a condom to prevent the spread of disease is not the same as saying it's okay to use one to prevent a pregnancy.

Still, Benedict's comments open a door and appear to mark a shift in his thinking about condoms and AIDS.

Speaking about AIDS in 2009, he told journalists during a trip to Africa that "You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms," the pope told reporters. "On the contrary, it increases the problem."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope Benedict XVI

soundoff (641 Responses)
  1. seph

    the pope is satanic he is the an-Christ on earth

    September 6, 2011 at 5:04 am |
  2. joe

    pope was influence of satan

    September 6, 2011 at 5:00 am |
  3. Wake Up

    What the Pope really needs to do if he wants people to keep producing children even if they don't want them, can't afford them, or have no desire to have them in the first place, is to take care of them himself! He sits in a chair of gold with servants by him at all times as if he was royalty which he isn't. He is merely elected by men just as any corporate officer would be. He owns fabulous art treasures, he has a palace for a home, he has special cars galore (e. g., popemobile) all things our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ never had! What a shame to say they are followers of Jesus. In what way? He should lead by Christ's example! It starts with living an humble life and dressing accordingly. Not with the fantastic garb the Pope wears and his current lifestyle, for example.

    He really needs to put his money where his mouth is and take these unwanted children from unwanted pregnancies and raise them with the fantastic amount of money he has at the Vatican. He can well afford to take in most of the children in the world today and provide a good home with nutritious meals, a good education, and loving, committed people whose goal is to look after the welfare of these kids. So, he needs to start acting more like Jesus if he wants people to believe he emulates his life, which, of course, we know he does not and could never. But it would be a good start for him to at least try. And he should really sell much of what he has, to give to the poor and less fortunate. That, would be an act that would be meritorious of calling him compassionate and God-fearing. But until that happens, we are just looking at the grim status quo minus the compassion, love, understanding, and true teachings of Jesus Christ.

    November 28, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
  4. Gary

    my my my my poker face......hindu filthy

    November 22, 2010 at 10:25 pm |
  5. CanNorth

    Finally someone understands the importance of getting to 3rd base

    November 22, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
  6. Patricia

    Well that's a start. However, isn't that typical of the Catholic male dominated society. Evil Prositutes spreading aids to innocent men. Hallooo... Any chance of mentioning the expectation of men to take responsibility and protect themselves, their partners or whoever else they feel the need to share themselves with.

    November 22, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
  7. brad

    Here we find typical posts as found on the CNN belief blog. When the Church forbids artificial birth control, there's outrage (at someone irrelevant at that !) When the Pope backs off a little on people's pet topics, the same folks get nasty about that, too. Then they will announce their superiority because they read some pop-science.
    So many of you bloggers are why the church exists in the first place. Someone has got to counter your toxic effect on the world.

    November 22, 2010 at 9:27 am |
  8. Dwight

    Who gives a rat's ass what the Pope thinks and who does he think he is to tell me what to do with my life?

    Contraception is the only sensible thing in this world of overpopulation, STD's and poverty. It's RETARDED not to use contraception.

    November 22, 2010 at 9:25 am |
  9. Muneef

    Long live the Pope and the Catholic Church...kindly read how the Vatican is in good term with Islam and seeking towards getting closer understanding with each other...! Kindly read the following link to an amazing book that can be considered mankind best friend...kindly read:


    November 21, 2010 at 7:15 pm |
  10. syntaxerror

    The priests just didn't want to get boy poop on their weiners...so condoms are ok now...

    November 21, 2010 at 4:16 pm |
  11. dirtypantyfactory

    Whoever wrote this article needs to do some serious fact-checking. You don't transmit AIDS to someone, you transmit HIV, from which AIDS may or may not develop. Big difference.

    November 21, 2010 at 2:34 pm |
  12. LdftRightLef

    The "stories" that the religious hold so dear are so incredible that they are laughable. Ever read the Mormons story? That coupled with their assertion that they are Christian (they use the bible too) makes it even whackier. I think all Christian faiths use the bible, and the story it weaves is so far out that no adult who has ever heard it (if it weren't brainwashed into their minds when very young) would ever give it a second thought. Islam's story is even worse.

    Tell you what you should do on Sunday: get laid before you get out of bed, watch a game on TV, drink some beer and/or smoke a joint, get laid again and ponder on how enjoyable life can be. Please do use a condom. Now is that better than what your religions tell you? Make me your pope! I'll give you happiness on the round earth as well as wherever it is you think you might be going in some afterlife.

    Glen Beck figured it out. Give the "sheep" the most bizarre, far-fetched story you can dream up and they'll believe it before they believe any truth in front of their eyes.

    Oh, and if you simply insist on living your life in a sad faily tale, then take comfort in knowing that this pope has some semblence of balz when he at least throws you this little condom crumb.

    November 21, 2010 at 1:37 pm |
  13. Picci

    Really, CNN? Typos? Comon!! Edit...edit...and edit again...

    November 21, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  14. Laur

    Wow. Thank god I'm an atheist.

    November 21, 2010 at 8:34 am |
  15. Patrick

    Seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened. If You want to find God he is there waiting for you, It is your choice. Seek with a sincere heart, You will find Him. Pray for true wisdom.

    November 21, 2010 at 8:32 am |
    • Ben (PA)

      pray for the truth and for wisdom to know it when you see it.
      love your neighbors and everyone you meet.
      forgive your emenies and turn your cheeks from sideways.
      don't forget to give everything you have so you can receive everything back from God.

      November 23, 2010 at 4:22 am |
  16. rox

    Why, This day in age would ANYONE care about the ramblings of this tired old man in a dress?? His "religon" has caused more suffering to more people on this planet than can be told! And all in the name of his little "imaginary" friend that he manipulates to get will less followers to give him money to continue the big lie! Use you're brains people make up you're own minds if you want kids or not, if you want to wear a condom, if you want to eat a steak on friday! This "POPE is just another man....no more intelligent than you ....not above you in any way and does not know one thing more about god or what he wants than you do! Live a decent life dont hurt people and let these posers go on with their game.

    November 21, 2010 at 7:51 am |
  17. milenkovic

    I think he should stay out of my bedside drawer. I can wash, iron, and starch my condom without any help.

    November 21, 2010 at 7:36 am |
  18. Ryan M.

    Of course, no one here is jumping to conclusions, and, of course, you are all checking Catholic sources for correct interpretation of the WHOLE text. That's what logical, reasonable people do. Scrutiny goes both ways.

    November 21, 2010 at 7:33 am |
  19. Gueste

    Independent of religion: consider MULTIPLE EVENTS vs a single event.
    If in 1 event a method is 99% safe against AIDS, with 10 events you have 9.6% chance to be infected, with 50 events 39.5%.
    If 90% safe, with 10 events you have 65.1% chance to be infected, with 50 events 99.5%.
    Worth the risk to get an incurable AIDS?
    (Just use the binomial (a+b) formula you learned in high school).

    November 21, 2010 at 7:27 am |
  20. Carter Swampy

    Wow! The catholic church has caught up to 1965!

    November 21, 2010 at 7:25 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.