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. Buddy Kowalsk

    The pope is a dink.

    November 21, 2010 at 7:00 am |
  2. Papal Menace

    The infallibility issue is misunderstood. It is not meant to imply the Pope cannot commit error or sin. Only with regard to doctrine does it imply infallibility. That said, there too he is quite fallible (read: human).

    November 21, 2010 at 6:57 am |
  3. Papal Menace

    It's about time a Pope realized a good majority of his flock already use condoms and chemical birth control. Going through life with blinders on has not served the Church very well.

    November 21, 2010 at 6:53 am |
  4. Muneef

    O beautiful for spacious skies,
    For amber waves of grain,
    For purple mountain majesties
    Above the fruited plain!
    America! America!
    God shed His grace on thee,
    And crown thy good with brotherhood
    From sea to shining sea!

    Can we say now that all kinds of natural disasters happen to countries that have majority non religious and filled with sins? Or would they continue telling us it is climate change and global warming ?? Why more of such disasters happen in US and not so much in Canada if I am not wrong?
    Only sinful unjust countries pay their dues purify them by such natural,unnatural disasters that occur to them? So do straight countries as well get some of that just to test the strength of their faith and belief? So as it seems the more sinful unjust countries are the ones that are more vulnerable, exposed, effected by such disasters than other ones...!

    November 21, 2010 at 6:43 am |
  5. salayem

    Who said that he meant it could be used in se xual intercourse?

    November 21, 2010 at 6:41 am |
  6. Prakhar Singh

    Stalin was right in saying that the Pope has no divisions and cannot issue commands.

    November 21, 2010 at 5:22 am |
  7. John

    Yellow journalism at it's finest. The church needs our prayers. To have the faith compromised is very much more worse than contracting any STD. Most people will not read to see the specifics and in the spiritual guidance they seek they will feel justified in sinning
    I'm not saying do not protect yourself but I am saying we should be worried when the church makes compromises with the Faith

    November 21, 2010 at 5:04 am |
  8. pplarelame

    The Pope says condoms are ok now. Ok that's fine. So what now? Get over it people!

    November 21, 2010 at 5:02 am |
  9. pplarelame

    The Pope says condoms are ok now. Ok thats fine. So what now? Get over it people!

    November 21, 2010 at 4:57 am |
  10. Tracy

    I think condoms are okay any time they prevent an unplanned pregnancy. The church dislikes abortion and so the ought to favor condoms!

    November 21, 2010 at 4:46 am |
  11. Joe Mama

    Who give's a F

    November 21, 2010 at 4:34 am |
  12. Joe Mama

    contraception could mean one less penny in the offering plate.

    November 21, 2010 at 4:33 am |
  13. Joe Mama

    Who give a F

    November 21, 2010 at 4:31 am |
  14. right

    Lets just get this straight half of u don't believe in god or anything in that category...But the other half seems to believe in pretty much all that god stuff .. Well I believe that the POPE is going to end up being the ANTI-Christ I mean if u think about the world has to come to a end sooner or later and be reborn yedda yedda yedda....SO what better person to end up being the Anti-Christ then the pope himself...No one would ever expect it or see it coming....SO those of u who believe so strongly in the pope are not going to have a happy ending....And those of us who don't yay we gonna live...lol

    November 21, 2010 at 3:48 am |
  15. phillipp

    when you were a fetus your fine, when you were born your f%cked

    November 21, 2010 at 3:16 am |
  16. salvice

    welcome to the 20th century....even though it is currently the 21st. nonetheless...welcome

    November 21, 2010 at 3:07 am |
  17. Jon

    The catholic Church is the biggest cult in the world.. Full of paganism and old covenant theology. According to there standard, everyone on this planet is going to hell. Relationship is the answer, not Religion. A relationship with Jesus Christ. Religion is a man made system that confines. Jesus frees people. I pray the Pope and His satanic religious system comes to this understanding before it is to late.

    November 21, 2010 at 3:04 am |
    • inocencio

      you who are proud of your intelligent go with your intelligent, here we are only the simple people who need guidance. Many of you with your high intelligent promised many things to us but what you gave us are only stones and guns. You have many reasons to accuse our Pope but actually you have only your own intention to fulfill your egoism.

      November 21, 2010 at 3:36 am |
    • Some_Truth

      "A relationship with Jesus Christ."

      This is 20th century pop religion. You can't have a relationship with a dead person.

      If you think you do, please tell us what he says to you. Does he tell you anything you don't already know, or anything that you couldn't figure out using your brain and imagination? You are talking to yourself.

      November 21, 2010 at 4:07 am |
    • Some_Truth


      p.s. It is good that you see the flaws in organized religion, however. You are on your way to reality it seems.

      November 21, 2010 at 4:12 am |
  18. Cristina

    So, God on earth changes his mind,.. nothing like being consistant.. I suppose truth changes too, huh? The catholic church changes with the wind... The biggest cult in all of the World.

    November 21, 2010 at 2:57 am |
  19. Paul Ronco

    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."

    It's interesting that he should spread this lie, as one scientific study after another shows that distributing free condoms decreases the incidences and spread of AIDS in a population.

    November 21, 2010 at 2:41 am |
  20. phillipp

    not every ejaculation deserves a name...gc

    November 21, 2010 at 2:28 am |
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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.