The Pope and Condoms
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The Catholic Church has always maintained a strict position against the use of condoms and contraception in general. This position has shifted recently with what appears to be the Pope’s recognition of condom use in specific cases. Pope Benedict presented what is clearly a new position on the use of condoms in a statement on the acceptability of condom use in cases where the failure to use this form of contraception by an individual could threaten the health and well being of another individual. The Pope’s statement on condoms was prompted by a discussion on prostitution and male prostitution in particular, both of which he emphasized was viewed as immoral by the Church and could not be endorsed. Pope Benedict suggested however that the spread of HIV through prostitution could be mitigated through the endorsement of condom use by prostitutes who are HIV positive.
Although the Pope’s statement on condoms was aligned with the views of many Catholic healthcare professionals and ethicists, it caused a backlash among many conservative Catholic leaders and Catholic followers who misinterpreted this new position as a first step in a shift to broad acceptance of contraceptives. The Vatican responded to critics by attempting to clarify the Pope’s statement, maintaining that the Pope’s statement was not an endorsement of prostitution or contraceptives by the Catholic Church. Rather, the Pope’s statement on condom use was an argument supporting the concept of accountability among prostitutes to respect the lives of others, which they could demonstrate by using condoms to prevent the spread or transmission of the disease to others.