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. lct1119

    No kidding

    November 20, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
  2. jobleaux

    Mary should have used a condom. And Joseph, that guy had to have been the most gullable moron on Earth at the time. Is girl gets knocked up by some dude and she says "God did it". And Joseph actually fell for it! HA HA HA HA HA.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  3. Chaos

    Hint Hint: Its OK when a priest is sodomizing a child. (But not for a married couple)

    November 20, 2010 at 5:52 pm |
  4. Mike

    He did say "maybe acceptable". He's still out on this one.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:50 pm |
  5. sim

    Pope Benedict = 666

    November 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
  6. Annunaki

    I'm guessing he only condones the use of condoms with altar boys but not between consenting adults. Does anybody even care what this man thinks anymore with so much tragedy and violence around the world? While the world is responding to these crises, he's now just entering the 20th century. Give me a break.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:48 pm |
  7. Dave

    so....when, your popeitude? Condom use is OK when priests are molesting little boys against their wills? So they don't leave behind any DNA evidence? jerk.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  8. sim

    Pope = 666

    November 20, 2010 at 5:47 pm |
  9. truth

    Someone should look at this ass hole straight in his eyes and tell him to STFU. Why can't these religious dumb nuts just mind what they are doing and let people alone.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
  10. jim

    Judging by the ignorant statements being posted on this page, I can only encourage its readers to start listening to Catholic Answers Live radio show or visit the website. Apologists Jimmy Akin and Tim Staples will set you straight. That is, of course, if you actually have the chutzpah to phone in on the live program and take 'm on rather than just posting snotty and cowardly anti=Catholic remarks from the safety of a blog.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:46 pm |
    • Observer

      You know you're in trouble when your experts are called apologists.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:49 pm |
    • jobleaux

      I would suggest you get a brain and stop believing in imaginary, supernatural men in the sky.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:54 pm |
    • popeye1128

      You sure put me in my place. You're the man! The Pope would be proud of you. Anyone who doesn't think the Pope has a hotline to god is ignorant. I see now.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
    • Observer

      Bush had a hotline to God, too. Apparently, God didn't bother to tell Bush 9/11was coming or that Iraq had no WMD or that he should help all the people after Katrina. Sure didn't do much good.

      November 20, 2010 at 6:00 pm |

      listen yourself, we don't care what the pope thinks, if he even thinks at all

      November 20, 2010 at 6:02 pm |
    • Meh

      The Catholic Church is just so behind at everything. They only just now said that its OK to use condoms. They admitted that the sun is the center of the universe in the 1990s! And they still do nothing about what priests are doing. I believe in God, but its what his "messengers" are doing that is terrible.
      Also, if you dont reply to these comments that means one of 2 thing. Either1. WE are right or 2. You dont have the juegos.

      November 20, 2010 at 6:22 pm |
  11. sotto

    Seriously why is this even news? I mean who cares what this criminal organization has to say about anything? From the times of Galileo all the way up until this bs, they're useless...I was raised catholic..I was even an altar boy (although never molested lol) no, but seriously, organized religion is dead...let's embrace science for once and for all...just sayin'

    November 20, 2010 at 5:45 pm |
  12. popeye1128

    Pope says 'a seaman is a terrible thing to waste'.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  13. StevieBoy

    On another matter, the Pope also acknowledged that the invention of the wheel may some day benefit society, but that would remain to be seen and he would pray for guidance on this matter.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm |
  14. Meh

    Whats funny is that back in the 1500s, pope Alexander VI had or gies inside the vatican, had s-e x with his daughter, and asked his son to conquer Italy.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  15. John

    He is just a man caught up in his religion. If he knew God he would have wisdom worth listening to.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  16. dadymat

    I as the pope hereby say that condoms should only be used when raping young alter boys.......

    November 20, 2010 at 5:43 pm |
  17. Bosnm8

    What people fail to remember is this knucklehead is a normal human being. He isnt appointed by god and does not speak for god but does speak for a set of values written centuries ago. Its time for the catholic church to recognize that condoms is a viable form of birth control, not killing a fetus and not putting drugs into ones body. Think about it. Our neighbors that keep migrating form the south are devout followers therefore we can expect them to have large families that feed on our system... Mr Pope Its time to make a real life decision and understand that GOD would want the best for any child born on this earth.....

    November 20, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  18. God vs Mammoth

    Maybe he meant "condominiums". Those might be OK in some circu-mstances.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:42 pm |
  19. Dave

    May God bless all of you and forgive you.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
    • jobleaux

      May you get a brain.

      November 20, 2010 at 5:55 pm |
    • crm041066

      So God says it's ok to use condoms. Interesting... Where was God when priests were molesting kids?

      November 20, 2010 at 6:09 pm |
    • LdftRightLef

      May God eliminate AIDS so we don't need a raincoat. Or, do we need to ask Allah about that.

      November 21, 2010 at 5:58 pm |
  20. jefffbo

    I am glad the Pope has so much control over things and that his advice is gospell, not !

    November 20, 2010 at 5:41 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.