Condoms, Pius XII, sex abuse and other main points in pope book

November 20, 2010

benedictPope Benedict says in a new book, Light of the World, that condoms may be used in certain limited cases to prevent the spread of AIDS. He also addressed several issues facing the Church in the book, which is based on a long interview with German Catholic journalist Peter Seewald.

(Photo: Pope Benedict, 17 Nov 2010/Max Rossi)

Here are some of the main points in the new book:

* CONDOM USE – Pope Benedict says the Church does not see condom use as “a real or moral solution” to the AIDS problem. But it could be justified in some cases, such as a prostitute who uses one to reduce the risk of infection and thus take responsibility for his actions (see an excerpt here).

* SEXUAL ABUSE SCANDALS – Recent scandals of sexual abuse of minors by priests were “an unprecedented shock,” even though he had followed the issue for several years. He adds he can understand why people would quit the Church in protest.

* WILLIAMSON – The Vatican did not know in January 2009, when it lifted excommunications on four ultra-traditionalist bishops, that one of them was a Holocaust denier and would not have done it for him if it had known, the pope says.

* PIUS XII – The wartime Pope Pius XII, who critics accuse of not saving Jews during the Holocaust, was “one of the great righteous men (who) saved more Jews than anyone else.”

* PAPAL RESIGNATION – The pope indicates he would be ready to resign voluntarily if he were “no longer physically, psychologically and spiritually capable of handling the duties of his office,” thus becoming only the second to do so since Celestine V in 1294.

* HIS OWN HEALTH – Pope Benedict, 83, remarks several times on his age. “I … notice that my forces are diminishing,” he says. Discussing the World Youth Day in Madrid next August, he says he will attend “if, God willing, I am still alive.”

* VATICAN COMMUNICATION – The pope admits the Vatican has at times failed to get its message across properly. It suffered a “total meltdown” over the Holocaust-denying Bishop Williamson, a controversy that could have been avoided by finding out on the Internet “what sort of person we were dealing with.”

* ISLAM – Muslim majority countries can become intolerant, “making coexistence with Christians very difficult,” but the Vatican must stay in contact with “all the currents within Islam that are open to and capable of dialogue.”

He also said he saw no reason for a ban on Muslim full facial veils in Europe.

RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH – A meeting between the pope and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill is possible in the not too distant future, Benedict says.

SECULARISM – The pope says a “new intolerance is spreading” in western countries that want to limit the public expression of Christian faith. Christians must mobilise against this, he says.

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