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. crm041066

    Condoms were always "ok" Get your facts in order!

    November 20, 2010 at 5:39 pm |
  2. Patricia

    Didn't know that the Pope knew how to use condoms.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
    • LdftRightLef

      Patricia...he obviously doesn't. I mean, how can I use the rubber to prevent the spread of AIDS and still get you pregnant?

      November 21, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
    • Smite Me

      "Didn't know that the Pope knew how to use condoms."

      Oh, I'll bet he does. They make real handy dust covers for those dashboard Jesus statues... and during Holy Week you can use the purple ones...

      November 21, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  3. matt

    The bible is the perfect in errant eternal word of God. Except for in the case where people change it to suit their desires carnally, socially, politically or personally. Thus we have Anglicans, Episcopaleans, Catholics, Lutheran, Baptists, Jehova's Witnesses, Mormons, Methodists...blah blah blah....there's a version of the bible, or its translation for any person regardless of his/her vice. Yeeeeeehaaaawww!!!!!!

    November 20, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  4. vp

    Condoms are acceptible if you are a priest!!!!

    November 20, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  5. Alex

    LOL! What a breakthrough.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:35 pm |
  6. Josh

    It took from 1633 till 1992 for the Catholic Church to vindicate Galileo on the earth not being the center of the universe. At least they are moving in somewhat the right direction who knows they might actually one day condemn pedophilia and those who cover it up. But that would be asking to much.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
  7. youie

    Which century does the Catholic church and the pope live in?

    November 20, 2010 at 5:33 pm |
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    November 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
    • Annunaki

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      November 20, 2010 at 5:51 pm |
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      November 21, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  9. Bob

    Looks like God's been talking to Bennie again. Funny, how God changed His mind about condoms...in some cases.
    Before, God was telling the popes that rubbers were wrong, period. When God's not busy helping Albert Pujols hit
    home runs, He has time to reflect on these other issues (in the baseball off-season). When the heat is on, the Church
    leaders put their corrupt heads together and come up with all kinds of BS tactics designed to win the public over.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:32 pm |
  10. Aezel

    Gee thanks Mr. Pope. Meanwhile, you and the Catholic leadership litererally have the blood of millions on your hands for your past viewpoints on this matter.

    This is what is wrong with religion. Some stodgy old man says condoms are wrong and millions of people die of a horrible disease because they were brainwashed to think there is a magical invisible man in the sky who will punish them if they don't obey the stodgy old man.

    If there is a God, and if there is a Hell, then the Pope and his chronies are most certainly going there for the death and destruction they helped wreak on Africa.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
  11. RW

    Why do we need religion?

    November 20, 2010 at 5:31 pm |
    • vp

      because some (most) human are weak!!!

      November 20, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  12. about damn time

    It is about time!!! Only bad thing is its approved for people that have aids what the heck about the ones that cant afford to raise the kids the have much less the ones that havent been concieved yet mayb the church should be making allotments to families with children then they might change their tune then they would be handing them out all the time this is the least problem that they have what r they doing to prevent pedofiles for being around children maybe they should stand up and take them all out and let people stone them then maybe it wouldnt be happening since there they would be punished instead of just relocating them to another place that they could do it again and again

    November 20, 2010 at 5:29 pm |
    • Basic 101

      Oh put your pe nis back in your pants! The Pope's comments were taken out of context!

      November 20, 2010 at 7:45 pm |
    • LdftRightLef

      About Damn Time: Were you actually waiting for that? Are you still afraid to eat meat on Friday?

      November 21, 2010 at 5:38 pm |
  13. GoRemote

    Hell is having to use a condom for eternity............

    November 20, 2010 at 5:28 pm |
  14. chicagogam

    and i care what he thinks...why?
    wel, actually i do care when he propagates his anti (yet loving) gay poison to his followers. otherwise, i would be fine to let him do his thing if he would extend the same courtesy to...well, a lot of people..

    November 20, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  15. Christillusion

    Wow a huge shock that they shift their position again on yet another issue, does anyone with a brain really give a rats booty what this fossil thinks anyway? Shut it pope.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:26 pm |
  16. popeye1128

    In other comments the Pope said it is alright to go to the hospital if you're having a heart attack.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:22 pm |
  17. pflo

    Religion is such a joke! If they continually shift on their doctrines, they are admitting the previous ones were false! So HOW can they have any credibility?

    November 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  18. jason

    This is what the bible says about people like the pope:

    Mathew 7:21-23: “Not everyone saying to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter into the kingdom of the heavens, but the one doing the will of my Father who is in the heavens will. 22 Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and expel demons in your name, and perform many powerful works in your name?’ 23 And yet then I will confess to them: I never knew YOU! Get away from me, YOU workers of lawlessness."

    November 20, 2010 at 5:21 pm |
  19. darte

    So the former member of the Nazi youth is okay with gay guys using a condom. Sounds like a fringe benefit for priests or a way to prevent leaving evidence behind (no pun intended)

    November 20, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
  20. JayJay

    Isn't the Catholic Church against contraception because it prevents future Catholic Church members from being born? They need the money flow and having more babies is like an insurance policy for the future for the Vatican.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:18 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.