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In a historic paradigm shift, the Pope has declared that Catholics can use condoms under certain circumstances - ending the blanket ban on that particular form of contraception.
According to Pope Benedict XVI, the use of condoms has been deemed morally justified when the sole intention is to help stop the spread of AIDS by reducing the risk of HIV infection.
However, he restated the Catholic Church's objection to contraception as a means to prevent procreation.
“It [referring to the Catholic Church] of course does not see it as a real and moral solution. In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality,” the Pope answered when questioned about the fundamental beliefs of the Church. “It is not the proper way to deal with the horror of HIV infection.”
This groundbreaking change in position could be in part due to the heavy criticism Benedict faced after last year's comments regarding the AIDS epidemic in Africa. He described the issue as “a tragedy that cannot be overcome by money alone, that cannot be overcome through the distribution of condoms, which even aggravates the problems.”
These remarks - which seemed to suggest that condoms could actually make the AIDS crisis worse - set off a firestorm of controversy.
Today's new ruling comes after many theologians made the point that in certain scenarios, condoms weren’t actually a form of contraception to prevent life, but rather a safety measure to prevent death.
The announcement is further detailed in a book to be released by the Vatican later this week, “Light of the World.” The book is derived from a face-to-face interview with Pope Benedict - another historical first.
Besides contraception, other controversial topics including drug use and sex trafficking are addressed in the book, which the author, Peter Seewald believes (teasingly) will be “a big sensation.”