Home > reproductive health, RH Bill 5043 > Pope Benedict – use of condoms acceptable in some instances; CBCP’s anti-RH Bill position in jeopardy?

Pope Benedict – use of condoms acceptable in some instances; CBCP’s anti-RH Bill position in jeopardy?

something as controversial as this is something that is very unexpected to come from pope as Benedict. but said it he did –  condoms can be used in certain cases to prevent the spread of disease.

we think this statement of benedict will not only definitely get the catholic church talking as a whole , but the CBCP (Catholic Bishop;s Conference of the Philippines) on their toes in their fight against the RH Bill which is due for debate in congress within next month.

benedict’s statement considerably weakens the CBCP’s stand of non use of condoms for any reason. the use of condoms and modern methods of contraception together with traditional methods of contraception is allowed and will be promoted based on the rh bill. how can the CBCP convince catholics not to support the bill when the pope himself says a portion of society can use condoms?

the CBCP loses its moral high ground in the position that they are taking against the RH Bill.

Pope Benedict says that condoms can be used to stop the spread of HIV

Pope Benedict XVI during his four-day visit to Britain in September. His comments on condoms and HIV signal a break with the Vatican’s blanket ban on contraceptives.

In a break with his traditional teaching, Pope Benedict XVI has said the use of condoms is acceptable “in certain cases”, in an extended interview to be published this week.

After holding firm during his papacy to the Vatican’s blanket ban on the use of contraceptives, Benedict’s surprise comments will shock conservatives in the Catholic church while finding favour with senior Vatican figures who are pushing for a new line on the issue as HIV ravages Africa.

The comments were made in a book-length interview with a German journalist, Peter Seewald. In the case of a male prostitute, says Benedict, using a condom to reduce the risk of HIV infection “can be a first step in the direction of moralisation, 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”.

Contraception can be “a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality,” the pope says.

Excerpts from the book, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times, were published yesterday by L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper. The pope’s comments follow his controversial assertion in 2009 that the rising tide of HIV in Africa could be made worse, not better, by the distribution of condoms. He was speaking to journalists as he visited Africa, where the majority of HIV fatalities occur.

At the time, Aids campaigners and European governments expressed outrage. Belgium’s health minister said the pope’s comments “could demolish years of prevention and education and endanger many human lives”.

Francis X Rocca, a Vatican expert and correspondent for Religion News Service, said: “This new statement by the pope is very significant, it is going to shake things up. Even if high-ranking church figures and theologians have come out and said this, it remains a controversial subject and no pope has ever said something like this.”

Christina Odone, another leading Catholic journalist and commentator in the UK, described the Pope’s comments as a “hugely important moment” which Catholics had spent decades waiting for. “It allows Catholics, when we defend our church, to be able to say that this is a not a church that condemns people to Aids and that this is not a church that wilfully ignores the consequences of having unprotected sex,” she said.

Peter Stanford, former editor of the Catholic Herald, described the pope’s comments as “very significant. It’s a very welcome step if they are facing up to the real issues faced by real people.”

Insiders said that word of Benedict’s comment spread like “wildfire” at the Vatican yesterday, where he was appointing new cardinals. One said: “People were confused but also excited.”

In 2006, the Pontifical Council for the Health Care Pastoral, led by Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, was asked by Benedict to report on the use of condoms as a way of combating HIV.

“The pope is saying that if you can prevent disease, the use of condoms could be permissible,” said John Allen, senior correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter. “But this has been in the mix for a while,” he argued. “I think Benedict has been thinking this way since 2006, which is why he asked for the commission to look into it.

“The problem was not Benedict, it was others in the Vatican who argued that if you said using condoms was OK in certain situations, it would send out the message that they were approved. This was a PR problem.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/21/pope-benedict-condoms-hiv-infection

  1. Mon
    November 21, 2010 at 5:26 pm

    um, not really. a lot of people are reading more into this than there really is. here is a more balanced review: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2032433,00.html

    his statement that the male prostitute’s use of contraception implies a “first step in the direction of moralisation, 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” means that in using a condom, the male prostitute becomes aware, whether implicitly or explicitly, that his actions and choices have consequences, and they can be harmful to others and to himself. He can’t just do whatever he wants without incurring any effect. In his case, having sex indiscriminately, although pleasurable and perhaps financially-rewarding, can lead to disease if he isn’t careful.

    The pope is in no way endorsing condoms here. This is a critique of moral relativism, which is based on the “what’s right is what’s right for me” mentality, and the permissiveness that it engenders.

    A far cry from our current RH debate.

    • November 21, 2010 at 8:59 pm

      if male prostitutes are allowed to use condoms to prevent the spread of disease, what will prevent a straight male and female coup;e from using the same condom to prevent the spread of disease? the pope says it is ok to use condoms to prevent the spread of disease. and just like male prostitutes, the straight male and female couple can begin to be more responsible in their sex lives.

      • Mon
        November 21, 2010 at 11:39 pm

        the pope doesn’t say that condoms can be used to spread a disease. here is what he said.

        INTERVIEWER: Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?
        POPE: 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. (emphases added)

        So, if I may paraphrase what the Pope said, he first cautions that condom use is not a real or moral solution, meaning, it isn’t effective (REAL) or right (MORAL). This already shows that the Pope doesn’t abide by condom use at all!

        He then says that in particular cases (THIS OR THAT CASE… not really alluding to a general program or policy enforced but specific case-to-case examples) individuals who choose to use condoms for the purpose of protecting themselves and their partner from diseases could signal that this person is already looking at sex from a more responsible point-of-view. It is the “first step.” That doesn’t make it right. That means that it could eventually lead the person to making the right choices later in life.

        Intentions don’t make things right or wrong. The acts do. The Pope is saying that their intentions could be motivated by some higher good, but that still doesn’t justify the acts themselves.

        There really isn’t anything radical about what the Pope said. His words have just been misconstrued, whether accidentally (they seem pretty vague at first glance, i’ll admit) or in order to promote somebody else’s agenda.

  2. November 21, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    AIDS Prevention Groups Praise Pope Statement

    “condoms are not a moral solution, in cases such as prostitution they could be justified in the intention of reducing the risk of infection.”

    Advocates against the spread of AIDS have praised Pope Benedict’s statement that the use of condoms to stop the spread of HIV can be justified in certain cases.

    UNAIDS chief Michel Sidibe said Sunday the pope’s stance is a “significant and positive step forward” in recognizing that “condoms have important roles in HIV prevention.”

    Pope Benedict says in a new book to be published this week that although “condoms are not a moral solution, in cases such as prostitution they could be justified in the intention of reducing the risk of infection.”

    Many groups agreed the statement by the head of the Roman Catholic church was helpful in the fight against the spread of AIDS. However, some advocates felt the pope’s stance did not go far enough and needed to include the importance of HIV protection for all couples, not just prostitutes.

    The statement appears to be a major shift in the Vatican’s position on the issue.

    Condoms are often used as artificial birth control, which the Catholic church staunchly opposes. The pope says he is against the use of condoms to prevent pregnancy.

    The book, entitled “Light of the World,” is based on a series of interviews earlier this year by German journalist Peter Seewald at Pope Benedict’s summer residence.

    The pope’s response about condoms came in a general question about Africa, where HIV is widespread.

    Last year, the pope caused an international uproar on the way to Africa when he said that condoms should not be used because they could worsen the spread of AIDS.

  3. November 21, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    Mon :

    um, not really. a lot of people are reading more into this than there really is. here is a more balanced review: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2032433,00.html

    his statement that the male prostitute’s use of contraception implies a “first step in the direction of moralisation, 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” means that in using a condom, the male prostitute becomes aware, whether implicitly or explicitly, that his actions and choices have consequences, and they can be harmful to others and to himself. He can’t just do whatever he wants without incurring any effect. In his case, having sex indiscriminately, although pleasurable and perhaps financially-rewarding, can lead to disease if he isn’t careful.

    The pope is in no way endorsing condoms here. This is a critique of moral relativism, which is based on the “what’s right is what’s right for me” mentality, and the permissiveness that it engenders.

    A far cry from our current RH debate.

    Mon :

    um, not really. a lot of people are reading more into this than there really is. here is a more balanced review: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2032433,00.html

    his statement that the male prostitute’s use of contraception implies a “first step in the direction of moralisation, 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” means that in using a condom, the male prostitute becomes aware, whether implicitly or explicitly, that his actions and choices have consequences, and they can be harmful to others and to himself. He can’t just do whatever he wants without incurring any effect. In his case, having sex indiscriminately, although pleasurable and perhaps financially-rewarding, can lead to disease if he isn’t careful.

    The pope is in no way endorsing condoms here. This is a critique of moral relativism, which is based on the “what’s right is what’s right for me” mentality, and the permissiveness that it engenders.

    A far cry from our current RH debate.

    the rh bill in fact says what is right for one can be right for others and vice versa. the rh bill allows the user to decide for themselves.

    CBCP’s position is they want to tell people what it thinks is right for them and keep the people ignorant on the merits of modern methods of contraception.

    the pope isnow saying condoms can only be right for male prostitutes. and if we are to follow what CBCP is saying, what is right for male prostitutes are not right for straight heterosexual couples.

    • Mon
      November 21, 2010 at 11:53 pm

      “what is right for one can be right for others” – i get what you’re saying, that the rh bill seems to promote both natural and family planning methods and it gives the people all these options at their disposal, but i would caution you from using the words you used. for example, if racial discrimination or chauvinism or even littering is right for me, it can be right for others too? wala lang, not meaning to pick a fight, i just think that those words are quite dangerous to use.

      and i don’t see how anything that the pope said can be interpreted to mean that he is saying condoms can only be right for male prostitutes. i think you’re jumping to conclusions here. and in addition to that, i also don’t get how you think the CBCP would likely go on to say that “what is right for male prostitutes are not right for straight heterosexual couples.” i fail to see the logic there.

      • antenna1
        November 22, 2010 at 9:55 pm

        you are saying condoms are right for all?

        • Mon
          November 22, 2010 at 11:22 pm

          um… no. please explain how you inferred that from what i previously posted. thanks

  4. November 21, 2010 at 10:40 pm

    Mon :

    um, not really. a lot of people are reading more into this than there really is. here is a more balanced review: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,2032433,00.html

    his statement that the male prostitute’s use of contraception implies a “first step in the direction of moralisation, 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” means that in using a condom, the male prostitute becomes aware, whether implicitly or explicitly, that his actions and choices have consequences, and they can be harmful to others and to himself. He can’t just do whatever he wants without incurring any effect. In his case, having sex indiscriminately, although pleasurable and perhaps financially-rewarding, can lead to disease if he isn’t careful.

    The pope is in no way endorsing condoms here. This is a critique of moral relativism, which is based on the “what’s right is what’s right for me” mentality, and the permissiveness that it engenders.

    A far cry from our current RH debate.

    what about female prostitutes? can they not ask their clients to use condoms to stop the spread of HIV?

    • Mon
      November 22, 2010 at 12:18 am

      and another thing, we’re acting as if condoms are nowhere to be found in this country! and once the RH bill is passed, we’ll suddenly have access to condoms. what then are all those frenzy and trust ads we see on TV for? if they really want to use contraceptives, then go ahead, you can buy it in most drugstores these days. the church, nor the Pope for that matter, won’t be able to stop them.

      what i’m against is when my taxes are used to buy boatloads of contraceptives to ensure “universal” access to them. how can the state allot an adequate budget to buying all these contraceptives and not even be able to provide decent schooling for everyone, or decent roads and highways, for example?

      and no, it’s not because we have too many people🙂

  5. Mon
    November 21, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    Before anyone jumps to conclusion, bear in mind that a lot of these reports coming from seemingly reputable sources have thought best to “cut and paste” select responses from the pope’s interview. when read in its totality (again, the book hasn’t even been released yet so we’re jumping the gun WAAAAY too early on this point), it becomes clear that the pope isn’t endorsing condoms in any way.

    Check these out (i know they are catholic sites, but at least they include more of the Pope’s responses so as to give us the proper context):

    http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2010/11/20/condoms-may-be-first-step-in-moralisation-of-sexuality-says-pope/

    http://www.ncregister.com/blog/the-pope-said-what-about-condoms?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed:+NCRegisterDailyBlog+%2540The+Daily+Register%2541#When:22:09:44Z

    And here’s an article from secular USA Today, albeit the faith and reason section:

    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/Religion/post/2010/11/condoms-pope-benedict-hiv-catholic-church/1

    Here’s the full text of the Pope’s responses on the whole condom use thing:

    http://www.catholicworldreport.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=221:pope-benedict-xvi-discusses-condoms-and-the-spread-of-hiv&catid=53:cwr2010&Itemid=70

    When you read the whole thing in context, it gradually becomes clearer that the Pope is in no way reversing Church teaching on condom use (he in fact affirms it).

    And since it seems like cutting and pasting isolated responses seem to be the trend, here are some of the other things the pope said that have conveniently been omitted by some of the news reports:

    1. “…we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms”
    2. “…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.”
    3. (in response to a question asking if the church is opposed to using condoms) “…She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution.”

    Nothing new there, whether you agree with the Church’s position or not.

    Regarding the male prostitute example, the Pope (again, this is my interpretation since all we have to work with are advanced releases of certain excerpts from the book) seems to be commenting on the individual’s moral progress. A prostitute, by the Church’s understanding, is already committing sexual acts that are deemed sinful. In using a condom in order to protect oneself or the other from potentially contracting a disease, the prostitute can be made gradually aware that his actions can have potentially harmful consequences. It can be, as the Pope said, the “first step” towards having a sense of responsibility for his actions, since he now shows some concern towards what might happen to others because of what he’s been doing. The Pope here is commenting on his intentions and not on the act itself, which, as his previous statements make clear, are still wrong. In this case, this moral “awakening” could lead this person to renounce his former way of life and live a more moral lifestyle.

    So I stand by what I said. This doesn’t really touch the RH bill, nor the Church’s fundamental stance against it.

    • jlocute
      November 22, 2010 at 2:18 pm

      I agree. As said by the Vatican spokesman, “The Pope is not changing Church teachings on condom use”.

  6. monica de los reyes
    November 22, 2010 at 10:56 am

    this pronouncement of the pope on condom use is causing so much controversy and confusion among catholics. this pope as suggested previously by others should resign.

    • jlocute
      November 22, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      Please do not judge the Pope. Jesus said, “Who did you think you were making yourself God and judging my anointed?” Jesus said this that we should not judge the priests. What more when you judged his bishops and more especially our Pope.

      Please read more and be careful when saying such comments. We will all be accountable in everything that we do.

      Also, please read the comments by Mon on this blog.
      What happens here is that many reporters and people misinterpret his statement.
      The enemy (Satan) tries to discredit the Pope. Do not allow yourself to be use by him.

  7. secular
    November 22, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    seriously dude your boss is getting senile…

  8. manuel
    November 22, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    church dogma has an exception? and of all people to be exempted – male prostitutes????

  9. antenna1
    November 22, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    Church urged to take Pope’s lead on reproductive health bill

    By Lira Dalangin-Fernandez
    INQUIRER.net
    First Posted 12:33:00 11/22/2010

    MANILA, Philippines—The Catholic hierarchy in the country should take cue from the statement of Pope Benedict XVI, who said he doesn’t oppose the use of condom to prevent AIDS, and begin to open its mind about a reproductive health policy, a lawmaker said on Monday.

    Representative Luz Ilagan of Gabriela party list hailed the Pope’s statement, saying that it will boost the chances of the reproductive health bills now pending in the House of Representatives.

    “The hierarchical church should take its cue from the Pope, who has shown open-mindedness on social realities. It is time to consider the plight of the poor, the sick, and the marginalized in particular and the flock in general,” Ilagan said in a text message when asked to react to the statement.

    http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/breakingnews/nation/view/20101122-304662/Church-urged-to-take-Popes-lead-on-reproductive-health-bill

    • Mon
      November 22, 2010 at 11:28 pm

      i think if these honorable lawmakers actually took the time to read through what the pope said, and if they chuck their own self-serving biases out the window, then they can’t possibly infer that the pope “doesn’t oppose the use of condom to prevent AIDS” from what was said.

      What we have here are people looking to further their own cause by interpreting what the pope said to suit their own agenda.

      • November 23, 2010 at 10:41 am

        What we have here are people looking to further their own cause by interpreting what the pope said to suit their own agenda.

        –> exactly!!!

    • cecilla
      November 23, 2010 at 11:43 am

      must be really tough to be anti-RH Bill these days. even the pope is disagreeing with you.

      • November 23, 2010 at 4:44 pm

        must be really tough to be anti-RH Bill these days. even the pope is disagreeing with you.

        –> The Pope never disagrees. Read and understand the fullness before you comment.

        Its not tough to be an anti-RH Bill. What’s tough is to be a real Catholic. What’s tough is to stand for truth and righteousness, even if means “me” against “the whole world”.

      • Leo G
        November 25, 2010 at 12:56 am

        Dapat basahin muna ang buong kasagutan ni Pope Benedict sa tanong ni Seewald sa kanya tungkol sa condom use. Kasi magiging half truths ang ating makukuha.

  10. antenna1
    November 22, 2010 at 9:57 pm

    i think with this, benedict has turned the catholic church into a schizophrenic.

    • November 23, 2010 at 4:34 pm

      And that’s the power of the mass media. Do many of them spread the good news, or simply concentrate on every bad news? Do many of them tell the truth?

      Because many had already fallen under Satan’s spell. This is Satan’s number one instrument(TV, Newspaper, Radio, Internet, etc).

  11. antenna1
    November 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    at one point, some philippine bishops said condoms should not be used asthey are ineffective as they have micro holes on them. (hahaha) so now, with the pope saying condoms can be used to prevent the spread of disease, the micro-holes argument no longer holds. hahaha

  12. November 23, 2010 at 4:20 pm

    Let us have some analogy on what the Pope said. If someone is determined to sin by robbing a bank and was determined to use a gun, it would better for that person to use a gun that had no bullets in it. It would reduce the likelihood of fatal injuries. Thus reduces the consequences on his sin. The intent of a bank robber to rob a bank in a way that is safer for the employees and customers of the bank may indicate an element of moral responsibility that could be a step towards eventual understanding of the immorality of bank robbing.

    This is the same way with Pope’s statement on male prostitute or homosexual. The Holy Father, again, is saying that the intention to reduce the transmission of any infection is a “first step” in a movement towards a more human way of living sexuality. That more human way would be not to threaten or harm one’s sexual partner. For an individual with HIV to have sexual intercourse with or without a condom is to risk transmitting a lethal disease.

    The Holy Father is simply observing that for some homosexual prostitutes the use of a condom may indicate an awakening of a moral sense; an awakening that sexual pleasure is not the highest value, but that we must take care that we harm no one with our choices. Do you get his point?

    In his second answer he says that the Church does not find condoms to be a “real or moral solution.” That means the Church does not find condoms either to be moral or an effective way of fighting the transmission of HIV. As the Holy Father indicates in his fuller answer, the most effective portion of programs designed to reduce the transmission of HIV are calls to abstinence and fidelity.

    Let us be careful with our comments. Unless you really intended to twist statements to justify the use of condoms –> in which is evil. Little by little, this generation really justifies evil.

  13. Name: Mark
    November 23, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    This problem arises by considering action and inaction morally neutral by default – it isn’t; a human being is graced by their very existence and nature scarred by original sin – nothing is inherently morally neutral; but morally ambivalent – the condom use does not merely NOT tip the balance into further moral disorder; it tips it the other way albeit the minutest fraction – Therefore His Holiness is correct in his assessment of it being a movement towards…

  14. antenna1
    November 25, 2010 at 9:59 am

    Pope’s remarks on condoms sow widespread confusion
    (AP) – 3 hours ago

    RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Some Roman Catholics are confused. Some are angry. Others just don’t believe the pope meant what it seems he said.
    Days after the release of Pope Benedict XVI’s comments that condoms can be justified to prevent the spread of HIV, there is widespread confusion about exactly what he was trying to say. The remarks have put some of the strictest defenders of church teachings in the awkward position of potentially disagreeing with the pontiff.

    Many church officials worldwide have been conspicuously silent. Some bishops are even seeking clarification from the Vatican.

    “It’s a mess,” said John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, which advises church leaders, hospitals and Vatican offices. “I’m not ready to say that the pope said what (papal spokesman Rev. Frederico) Lombardi said.”

    On a practical level, most Catholic-affiliated charities that minister to people at high risk of contracting AIDS are unlikely to make changes anytime soon.

    Haas, also a moral theologian, said he fielded calls all day Tuesday from confused bishops. Benedict’s comments come at a time when American bishops are focused on upholding Catholic orthodoxy on marriage and sexuality.

    “It’s important to recognize this is not some blanket opening of the door for married people to use artificial birth control,” said Mark Silk, director of the Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

    In some heavily Catholic nations, church leaders have avoided discussing the matter. In Spain, Cardinal Antonio Maria Rouco Varela made no mention of the pope’s statements during a meeting of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference.

    When pressed by reporters, only Cardinal Carlos Amigo responded. Church leaders, he said, would have to read the book carefully first.
    In the Andes region of South America, there appeared to be few mentions of the pope in news media, and his remarks were not mentioned in services at several Masses attended by Associated Press reporters.
    The National Conference of Brazilian Bishops said it would not comment. Brazil has one of the world’s most advanced anti-AIDS programs, and the government distributes more than 200 million free condoms each year, especially during Carnival.

    The Brazilian church has officially opposed the distribution of condoms, but historically has done little to stop it.

    The U.S. Conference on Catholic Bishops has not issued a statement and referred questions to the Vatican.

    The uproar is over comments Benedict made in a new book titled “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.” In an exchange with the author about AIDS in Africa, Benedict said that for some people, such as male prostitutes, using condoms could be a step in assuming moral responsibility because the intent is to “reduce the risk of infection.”

    At a news conference Tuesday in Rome, Lombardi said Benedict knew his comments would provoke intense debate, and that the pope meant for his remarks to apply not just to male prostitutes, but also “if you’re a man, a woman, or a transsexual.”

    The pope did not suggest using condoms as birth control, which is banned by the Roman Catholic Church, and he said condoms were not a “real or moral solution” to the AIDS crisis. Catholic teaching has never totally barred condom use for protection against HIV, and the Vatican has no official policy on the issue.

    Larry Barkowski, a lifelong Catholic and married father of three from the Pittsburgh suburb of Natrona Heights, doesn’t believe the comments constitute anything new.

    “The popes have always promulgated responsible parenthood and responsible sexuality, and this is just a continuation of that. This is really nothing new other than the fact that he addressed the actual use of the condom, which has been something of a taboo,” Barkowski said.
    Catholic groups who minister to AIDS sufferers and those at high risk of contracting HIV agreed that the pope’s remarks — and the rival interpretations of them — leave long-standing practices in place.
    The Archdiocese of Los Angeles began what is likely the first U.S. Catholic AIDS ministry in 1986. The Rev. Chris Ponnet, who directs HIV and AIDS outreach efforts, said the pope’s comments do not mean a change in doctrine or in practice. Catholic outreach groups are not going to start distributing condoms, he said, adding that a singular focus on condoms ignores the roots of the problem.

    “Consistently, the church has called for faithfulness in marriage and for people not to use intravenous drugs, and that’s proven wise counsel,” he said.

    Ponnet sees Benedict’s remarks as directly addressing parts of the world where HIV and AIDS infection rates are far higher than in the United States.

    “I see this as not breaking any new ground, necessarily,” he said. “I hear the holy father responding to that pastoral concern that’s come from the grass roots as well as bodies of bishops in sub-Sahara Africa.”
    Catholic Relief Services, a global humanitarian agency headquartered in the U.S., has also been providing HIV and AIDS care and education for more than two decades. The group has AIDS-related programs in 62 countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America, spending more than $170 million on the projects in 2009.

    As long as official Catholic teaching condemns the use of condoms, the relief agency will follow that guidance, spokesman Michael Hill said.
    “Catholic Relief Services follows the teaching of the Catholic Church,” he said. “Our current policy holds that we do not purchase, distribute or promote the use of condoms.”

    The pope’s comments in a book interview do not amount to an official teaching, a point conservative Catholics have made repeatedly. They argued that the pope was only noting that by using a condom, a person with HIV is displaying some moral sense about the consequences of his behavior.

    “I maintain that nothing new has happened, that the church’s teaching hasn’t changed,” said the Rev. Joseph Fessio of Ignatius Press, the English publisher of the book, in a phone interview from Rome.

    “We’re in for a long period of confusion,” said Russell Shaw, a writer for the Catholic publication Our Sunday Visitor and a former spokesman for the U.S. bishops’ conference. “The bishops — and clergy especially — will have to go home now to their own dioceses and, whether they like it or not, start speaking very clearly about what just happened.”

  1. July 20, 2011 at 11:37 pm

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