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. Greg

    AIDS is God's punishment for the sin of being gay.Don't let condom stand on the way of God.

    OTOH, when catholic priest encounters an alter boy, a condom might be handy.

    November 20, 2010 at 11:53 pm |
  2. rochele

    but condom invented many years ago , he was sleep so far ??!!

    November 20, 2010 at 11:42 pm |
  3. rochele

    he's very funny man , his name is POPE or POP ? , he reminds me 40s

    November 20, 2010 at 11:39 pm |
  4. FreeSpiritGal

    Oh my God! Thank you Pope! Now I have a permission and "divine" guidance in the bedroom! (LOL) What a joke! If people think more with their own heads and follow their own sense of what's "right", leaving all other people to make their own choices, the world would be a much happier and more spiritual place. My gosh, people, do you really hold all this religious junk in your heads when you have s@x??? No wonder....... ๐Ÿ˜‰

    November 20, 2010 at 11:37 pm |
  5. popeye1128

    From the photo he knows how to hold a sh@ft. The cape is really sweet also. The gold just finishes the whole image. You rock Mr Pope dude.

    November 20, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  6. ThoughtfulReading

    "He isnโ€™t saying that the use of condoms is justified but that they can display a particular intent and that this intent is a step in the right direction.

    Janet Smith provides a helpful analogy:

    If someone was going to rob a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. But it is not the task of the Church to instruct potential bank robbers how to rob banks more safely and certainly not the task of the Church to support programs of providing potential bank robbers with guns that could not use bullets. Nonetheless, the intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for the employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing." (Jimmy Akin)

    November 20, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
  7. Tomin


    November 20, 2010 at 11:19 pm |
  8. makgroom

    Does anybody ever listen to what the Pope declares? Catholics do what they want and they go to confession. What a deal!

    November 20, 2010 at 11:18 pm |
  9. James Adams

    I don't understand your fear of Pope Benedict or the Catholic Church. You are all going to do what you want anyway. Millions more will die from disease whether you use a condom or not. Your best bet is to keep doing what your doing while holding out for miracle drugs. Then you donโ€™t have to change your behavior.

    November 20, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  10. Insan Mukmin

    Someone on this forum is calling himself "The prophet Mohammed". Please stop this because this username is not acceptable. This person is NOT a Muslim but is trying to give Muslims a bad name by being obnoxious.

    November 20, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  11. popeye1128

    From the photo he knows how to hold a shaft. The cape is really sweet also. The gold just finishes the whole image. You rock Mr Pope dude.

    November 20, 2010 at 11:16 pm |
  12. jar8818

    I'm curious; those of you that don't believe in God, why do you feel that way? The deep down, bottom line reason? I've never met an atheist that I know of, so I'm asking here.

    November 20, 2010 at 11:08 pm |
    • The Answer

      I'm not an atheist, jar8818. But in asking some who are I've been told that it is so much harder believing in righteousness than it is to live a life free from strictness. So, it appears that sinning is easier than refraining from sin when that sin is something God would surely disapprove of. But what they don't realize is that without the acceptance of Jesus, by becoming Born Again, there is no Salvation for their soul. But then, why would an un-Believer want to be Saved anyway and go to a place of great Light? After all, they can't miss what they've never had!

      November 20, 2010 at 11:43 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      There you go, second and third-hand assertions without true knowledge from "The Answer"- right up your delusional alley.
      People like me won't have to actually tell you the truth, as you guys prefer to just make it up on your own anyhows.

      November 20, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
    • Non Believer

      Oh, btw, I'm sure you've met plenty of athiests. Some reports show that 9% of the U.S. poplulation is athiest, others suggest as high as 16%. If the latter is true, about one of six Americans are "Non Believers".

      November 21, 2010 at 12:11 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @jar8818 – FYI -I'm not "Non Believer", so ignore the "btw" BS....

      Perhaps no one wants to tell you that they are atheist – they probably don't feel like being bugged to death about it.
      And atheists are the oppressed minority here. Who among us trusts the religious majority to act rationally? Not me.
      You guys are delusional. That's not exactly a glowing recommendation for personal disclosures.
      I keep my beliefs to myself IRL – I don't need more delusional madness being thrust at me by a bunch of wild-eyed bible-thumpers. Duh.

      I am waiting for some religious person to give me proof that God exists. Since no one is able to do this, I remain unconvinced.

      November 21, 2010 at 2:06 am |
    • Q

      For myself it's rather simple. No evidence and the problem of evil. I've heard most of the apologetics attempting to address both but they never seem to make a case not dependent on a priori belief (e.g. purpose, etc). If one examines specific theologies critically and dare I say skeptically, they are rife with contradictions. The existence of an uninvolved first cause deity is not out of the question but is particularly useless and again suffers from a lack of any reasonable evidential support.

      November 21, 2010 at 4:37 am |
  13. Me

    As usual the popular press has no idea what it is talking about. Again the Pope is quoted out of context. One day perhaps they will get it right if the can get past their own biased, misinformed reporting. See http://www.catholicculture.org/commentary/otn.cfm?id=732 for what he really said!

    November 20, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  14. Scam Artist

    The world would be better off without those stupid worshipers, pedos, and religious scam artists. Amen! @%^%$#%&%^

    November 20, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
  15. Km B

    7 billion people and the Pope starts to get a clue. Establishing a religion by out-breeding all the other religions just means you have to start killing the "others" when the resources run short. That's the reality. The spiritual justification for banning birth control is just hooey. If "God" wants somebody to be born, is s/he really that impotent that birth control gets in the way?

    November 20, 2010 at 10:53 pm |
  16. Uh huh

    Who? Do we really care what this medieval, pedophile shuffling, misogynist thinks? H*ll to the NO!

    November 20, 2010 at 10:52 pm |
  17. Evandro

    Seriously how far on contradicting itself can someone or something go? The Catholic Church is really going all the way to push to the limit.

    November 20, 2010 at 10:48 pm |
  18. Sara

    I am sorry, but the pope is out of touch with reality.

    November 20, 2010 at 10:47 pm |
  19. Katie

    *Sigh* I KNEW this was gonna be an anti-Catholic storm

    November 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
  20. whybs

    Benedict doesn't need condoms. He just beats off!

    November 20, 2010 at 10:41 pm |
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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.