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Pope Benedict has suggested that the use of condoms could be justified in some exceptional circumstances. His comments came in a series of interviews given to a German Catholic journalist, Peter Seewald, which are published in a question and answer format in a book entitled Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times - in which the Pope refers to the use of condoms in preventing the spread of Aids. Here is an extract of the book:
On the occasion of your trip to Africa in March 2009, the Vatican's policy on Aids once again became the target of media criticism.
Twenty-five percent of all Aids victims around the world today are treated in
Catholic facilities. In some countries, such as Lesotho, for example, the
statistic is 40 percent. In Africa you stated that the Church's traditional
teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV. Critics,
including critics from the Church's own ranks, object that it is madness to
forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.
The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to
Africa on account of a single statement. Someone had asked me why the Catholic
Church adopts an unrealistic and ineffective position on Aids. At that point, I
really felt that I was being provoked, because the Church does more than anyone
else. And I stand by that claim.
In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms. Much more needs to be done. We must stand close to the people, we must guide and help them; and we must do this both before and after they contract the disease.
As a matter of fact, you know, people can get condoms when they want them anyway. But this just goes to show that condoms alone do not resolve the question itself. More needs to happen. Meanwhile, the secular realm itself has developed the so called ABC Theory: Abstinence-Be Faithful-Condom, where the condom is understood only as a last resort, when the other two points fail to work.
This means that the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love, but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves. This is why the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man's being.
Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?
She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.
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