While some have welcomed that Pope’s statement that condoms can be used by male prostitutes, others are sceptical.
Over the weekend it was reported that Pope Benedict XVI made the apparent concession in a book-length interview, titled Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Sign of the Times, with German journalist Peter Seewald.
While the Pope and the Catholic Church have previously condemned the use of condoms under any circumstances, the Pontiff told Seewald: “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.”
British LGBT rights campaigner Peter Tatchell welcomed the Pontiff’s statement.
“The Pope’s concession that condoms may be morally justified to prevent the spread of HIV is a significant modification of the Vatican’s traditional, hard-line stance against all condom use.
“He seems to be admitting, for the first time, that using condoms can be morally responsible if they help save lives. If the Pope can change his stance on condoms, why can’t he also modify the Vatican’s harsh, intolerant opposition to women’s rights, gay equality, fertility treatment and embryonic stem cell research?” asked Tatchell.
The Vatican was, however, quick to dismiss suggestions that Benedict was heralding a liberalisation of the Church’s policies.
“With this, the Pope isn’t reforming or changing the teaching of the church, but reaffirming it, putting it in the context of the value and the dignity of human sexuality as expression of love and responsibility,” said chief spokesman for the Vatican, Rev Federico Lombardi.
The Pope has been harshly criticised by HIV/AIDS activists for the Church’s ban on condom use.