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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. Baruch Gutierrez

    yes historic day condonm vih and de pope from mexico and all rther word

    November 20, 2010 at 9:13 pm |
  2. bhagrak3

    It's ok to use condoms, and it's ok to abuse little boys. I wonder if I wear a giant hat and walk around with a stick people will start worshiping me and NOT that Jesus fellow.

    November 20, 2010 at 9:09 pm |
  3. Your Average Atheist

    Also, since jesus supposedly preached about modesty ( no need for riches, vanity, etc...) , why does the vatican put the pope in a $1 million dollar halloween costume ? another $ 1 million dollar gold cross in his hands, about $5 million dollars worth of gold decorations behind him and about a $1 billion dollar house to live in. Half the catholics in the world are starving.

    anyone feel misled ? the scams not only come from Nigeria in your email, there are more obvious ones.

    November 20, 2010 at 9:08 pm |
  4. CCN=Bad journalism

    The Pope is NOT saying condoms are okay! CNN distorted the Pope's answers to a journalist's questions, read the following for more of the truth! WAKE UP, CNN is DUPING YOU!
    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=220:pope-benedict-on-condoms-in-qlight-of-the-worldq&catid=53:cwr2010&Itemid=70

    November 20, 2010 at 9:07 pm |
  5. charles

    I was under the impression condoms were OK 99.9% of the time...

    jokes about this story and more:
    http://www.youtube.com/freetimecharlie

    November 20, 2010 at 9:06 pm |
  6. tcaros

    Ratzingburger says it's okay to use condoms. The Pope who tolerates pedophiles thinks it's okay now to use condoms. Why doesn't he stop the pedophiles.
    GW Bush loves the pope for some reason... really adores this guy.

    November 20, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
    • CCN=Bad journalism

      CNN is jerking us around. The Pope is NOT saying condoms are okay – read the following article for what he REALLY SAID.
      STOP being jerked around by CNN!
      http://www.catholicworldreport.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=220:pope-benedict-on-condoms-in-qlight-of-the-worldq&catid=53:cwr2010&Itemid=70

      November 20, 2010 at 9:10 pm |
  7. Your Average Atheist

    so, the church still believes that condoms between couples are a sin because they capture the seed of man. If the church wants to keep up this fairytale story of jesus, they are going to update some beliefs to stay current with modern viewpoints. Believe it or not, some people are smart enough to walk away from this crap.

    jesus – the greatest fairytale story ever told.

    November 20, 2010 at 9:01 pm |
    • Bradleyford

      Just because it is a modern view point does not make it moral or right.

      November 20, 2010 at 9:45 pm |
    • Your Average Atheist

      @Bradleyford,

      Then I can still run out and get a slave ? Tons of references to that from the bible. Or if somebody takes out my eye, I can take out his ? How about the man that Moses murdered in the desert ? Lets forget about modern viewpoints, and trust the bible. Doesnt bode so well, does it. ??

      This leads to the grandest conclusion that men and women can behave morally and properly without a prescribed set of rules that our ancient goat herders thought was needed.

      OH, and STILL NOBODY HAS ANSWERED ME. IF man was made in god's images, where is this 4 limbed, dude with back hair, a bald spot and a wandering eye ? "Man in his own imaget ? Are you kidding me ? Our ancient goat hearding jews sure had a pretty high opinion of themselves.

      I will never understand how a whole nation can be sidetracked by religion.Some stupid ass fairly tale now, really does affect most of our day in somweway !

      The whole damn bible is made up from a giant 'Wikipedia or epic proportions.

      November 21, 2010 at 2:25 am |
  8. Bobby

    this guy talks as if he really believes he is Gods messenger here on earth..give me a break he is as immoral as the rest of the pedophiles..popes in the past were guilty of all kinds of crimes including murder..give me a break his word means NOTHING in Gods eyes

    November 20, 2010 at 9:00 pm |
  9. ps

    Okie Dokie Poopie Pope

    So, if I don't want another rug rat running around, all I have to do is say I don't want AIDS and magically I am worthy in your eyes. Go stuff it. Condoms ARE NOT in the Bible, so where do you get your nonsense in the first place?

    November 20, 2010 at 9:00 pm |
  10. CCN=Bad journalism

    The Pope is NOT flip-flopping. CNN is just making it look that way. Always check more than one source before thinking CNN is the end-all-be-all for news! For better reporting on this, read the following web article: What Benedict Really Said

    November 20, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
    • waremtae

      If anyone is being duped it is you, by religion. The bible is nothing but a book of fairy tales authorer by MAN. Oh... and it's CNN.

      November 20, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
  11. Your Average Atheist

    Hey Basic 101,

    Isnt god the greatest example of a dead-beat dad ? He knocked up Mary then stayed out of her life forever. No help, no child support, he wasnt even around to protect his son from the evil doers. not exactly a role model to look up to.

    November 20, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
  12. dgmgdm

    keep the DNA of the lil victims....

    November 20, 2010 at 8:55 pm |
  13. JJWW

    Wow, the pope is more of a flip-flopper than John Kerry. That hippy better not drive his pope-mobile after all those bong rips.

    November 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
  14. Nick

    Support the control of the Christian population today...have your Christian spayed or neutered.

    November 20, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
    • popeye1128

      Don't know if it's original but still kind of funny. May keep them from biting also.

      November 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
    • Your Average Atheist

      That is funny.

      November 20, 2010 at 9:03 pm |
  15. LiberateUs

    America & Russia are the New Sodom and Gomorrah.
    Sadly, I live In AMERICA (a.k.a: Land of Intolerance.) We Catholics aren't welcomed anywhere, nowadays thanks to our Oppressors (atheists, protestants, radical Muslims.)
    In the end, we'll have the last laugh, and CNN will crumble.

    November 20, 2010 at 8:47 pm |
    • Don

      Yeah, there are no catholic churches anywhere in the US *eyeroll*

      Get crucial.

      November 20, 2010 at 8:48 pm |
    • popeye1128

      Take your meds please.

      November 20, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      We're outnumbered by the other 30,000 Protestant sects.

      November 20, 2010 at 8:51 pm |
    • Bradleyford

      @LiberateUs

      Agreed. This country is going to hell gift-wrapped.

      November 20, 2010 at 8:54 pm |
    • waremtae

      @ LiberateUs
      Don't like America? MOVE!!! I am not afraid of your non-existent hell/god.

      November 20, 2010 at 10:04 pm |
  16. Lilarose in Bandon, OR

    The people of Haiti are dying like flies because they are for the most part Roman Catholic and believe the church's rules against birth control. Nearly 3,000 babies are born in Haiti every WEEK (think of multi-millions in population) and while quite a number of those babies die early, they and their mothers are suffering hourly. What is so sick to me is that Roman Catholic priests themselves practice birth control: It is called abstinence.

    November 20, 2010 at 8:43 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      Obviously, they don't want protestant America making them change their ways. Where do you get your facts? Wikipedia?

      November 20, 2010 at 8:50 pm |
  17. Daniel

    This is shameful. He deliberately says that they are not a moral solution. He says that they can be justified with a view to preventing AIDS. Totally different ideas for anyone with the education of an 8th grader. What a poorly written piece. I demand you correct this article.

    November 20, 2010 at 8:40 pm |
  18. doobie

    condoms only with a women...little boys is okay without one...

    November 20, 2010 at 8:38 pm |
  19. Ray

    Catholic priests don't condone condom use because alter boys never get pregnant.

    November 20, 2010 at 8:36 pm |
    • LiberateUs

      Fukk off, hater

      November 20, 2010 at 8:53 pm |
    • Ray Carl

      Knowing now that the average man on the street is 2 x as likely to have touched anyone inappropriately as a priest, I don't know why we continue these low jokes. Lets grow up.

      November 20, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
    • waremtae

      @LiberateUs
      How very christian of you.

      November 20, 2010 at 10:14 pm |
  20. Joseph

    How many of you commenters have prayed for the pope?

    “Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven"
    –Luke 6:37

    Is not he a living person too just like you?

    "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone" –John 8:7

    November 20, 2010 at 8:27 pm |
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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.