Pope Benedict’s surprising view that condoms can sometimes be used to fight AIDS has kindled a lively debate among Roman Catholic theologians and commentators about whether this amounts to a change in Church thinking.
His comments and a Vatican clarification that expanded on them seem to leave no doubt that Benedict has spoken with unprecedented frankness for a pontiff and shifted the focus a bit from the Church’s rejection of condoms to avoid disease. (Photo: Pope Benedict at his weekly audience 24 November 2010/Alessia Pierdomenico)
But the format of his remarks — in a book of interviews with a German journalist rather than an official Vatican document — and some confusion over translations have opened a gap allowing divergent interpretations.
“I love the Holy Father very much, he is a deeply holy man and has done a great deal for the Church. On this particular issue, I disagree with him,” wrote Rev. Tim Finigan on his blog The Hermeutic of Continuity. The pope’s U.S. publisher, Rev. Joseph Fessio, declared: “The pope did not ‘justify’ condom use in any circumstances. And Church teaching remains the same as it has always been — both before and after the pope’s statement.”