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

    Condoms would remove some of the DNA evidence.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
    • f


      November 20, 2010 at 5:25 pm |
    • :D

      hee hee!

      November 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
    • Dumb and dumber

      Oh, deputy Eric Holden! We appear to have some serial rapists crimminals commenting on this thread.

      November 20, 2010 at 7:49 pm |
  2. pacoder

    That's so gracious of him, welcome to the 14th century people! Some day our species will outgrow the crutch of religion but not today!

    November 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
  3. GeorgeVT

    Breaking News: Church also discovers the Earth revolves around the Sun, that the Sun is revolves around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, there are billions of Galaxies in the Universe, and the Universe is somewhere around 14.6 Billion years old (as opposed to 6000).

    November 20, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
    • jason

      The bible doesnt claim that it took 6000 years. Thats ridiculous what those "christians" claim. Those 6 creative days could have taken millions of years.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:14 pm |
    • Observer

      If people take the ancestry trees in the Bible as correct, the time frame is about 6,000 years. If the Bible doesn't know the difference between a day and many years, it has no credibility.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
    • LdftRightLef

      Credibility? Ha! Ha! Ha!

      November 21, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  4. mc

    People need to understand that the Pope stands for Catholics ONLY and Catholics are not all encompassing of Christianity. Don't follow the man or what someone says about the book. Read it yourself and follow your heart.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:08 pm |
    • jason

      The bible advises against following your heart:

      Jeremiah 17:9 "The heart is more treacherous than anything else and is desperate. Who can know it?

      November 20, 2010 at 5:12 pm |
    • popeye1128

      Well, when his comments are in a book published for worldwide reading, I think he has stepped outside his own church. He should keep his comments within the church structure if he's saying it only applies to Catholics.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:16 pm |
  5. There are no gods!

    More and more proof that religion is a lie and that lie is perpetrated by man. It is plain and simple for even the most highly brainwashed individual to see, these people are sitting quite nicely in life on a lie and you believers are continuing the cycle of deceit by joining in this garbage other wise know as religion. There are no gods, get over it all ready!

    November 20, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  6. Knative

    They still need to admit that gays are OK, that god probably doesn't exist, and that those neck thingies are stupid. Otherwise, GTFO.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:07 pm |
  7. jobleaux

    What an incredibly ignorant moron the pope is.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
  8. PJ

    I'm sure he demands them when they are needed.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  9. Tam

    As if someone were actually waiting for his permission!. The previous Pope travelled to S. Africa and S. America and preached against birth control – that was criminal, and certainly not God's work.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  10. chieatfetus

    bow-chicky bow bow!

    November 20, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  11. jason

    The catholic church is losing more and more members, so they have to loosen all their laws to keep the rest. Typical.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
  12. darte

    "Copernicus In his next pronouncement, the Pope will say that the Catholic church accepts 1) Earth revolving around the sun and not vice-versa, and 2) by extension, the Earth cannot be flat."

    In 2000, Pope John Paul II issued a formal apology for the trial and imprisonment of Galileo for saying the Earth revolving around the sun.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • S. Brown

      I read that the current pope, when he was a cardinal, defended the church's conviction of Galileo.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:05 pm |
    • Mike Schumer

      Yea there seems to be a lot of red tape over there in the vatican.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
  13. religious sects

    What's scary is that there are some people out there that couldn't have made that decision by themselves.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
    • DanW

      And then tere are people like you who merely repeat what they hear other people saying and then call themselves "freethinkers."

      November 20, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  14. RexKiss

    still....they live in the Dark Ages......

    November 20, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
  15. Jose

    What kinda women does the Pope of England mess round with? ...Nun... I mean none, ha ha ha. Get it? Nun and None?

    November 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • popeye1128

      So lame it's kinda funny.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:02 pm |
    • thorrsman

      "Pope of England"?

      Ignorance abounds, it seems.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
    • Jose

      Some of you clowns may not have liked my Pope joke but deep inside...you know it was funny. Readers' Digest is even considering publishing one of my jokes.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
    • Friar Coock

      @Jose – LOL
      If you consider the Queen of England to be the "Pope" of the Church of England, then even more laffs are to be had!

      November 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  16. popeye1128

    He still doesn't say it is OK to use them for birth control. Oh, that's right, the church doesn't believe in birth control. They should feed every unplanned child.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • Daydream415

      The church does feed them, if they agree to be altar boys . . .

      November 20, 2010 at 5:06 pm |
    • LdftRightLef

      OK! I'm stumped! How can I use that condom to prevent the spread of AIDS and still get her pregnant. Let's see...

      November 21, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  17. Sean

    they want to stay in power, just like the clergy in Iran, what is the difference?

    November 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm |
    • DanW

      LOL...The difference is hey're not in power anywhere near like the imams of Iran. Most Catholics ignore the Pope and do as they please. You people act as if Catholics take his every word verbatim and cringe and cower at his pronouncements. Really, who is the tool after all?

      November 20, 2010 at 5:24 pm |
    • Mechanical Gangsta

      You are, of course.
      You are a massive, throbbing tool.
      You spew so much you need a custom-made reservoir tip just to handle the load.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
    • Sum Dude

      If they do what they please, then why call themselves Catholics?

      November 20, 2010 at 6:57 pm |
  18. Matt

    Oh, thanks so much for letting us know condom use to prevent the spread of AIDS is OK Pope. Please let us know if its also OK to breath air to prevent from dying and to cook meat before eating it.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:00 pm |


    November 20, 2010 at 4:59 pm |
  20. Mike Schumer

    Well OK.......If the man in the funny hat says so.

    November 20, 2010 at 4:58 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.