The Associated Press reported earlier this week that in a new book about Pope Benedict XVI, the pontiff says condom use can be justified for male prostitutes seeking to stop the spread of HIV.
Vatican spokesman Reverend Federico Lombardi clarified the Pope’s statement Tuesday, stating that condom use is acceptable prevention against HIV transmission for women and transsexual sex workers as well. “We’re at the same point,” the Pope said.
The Pope’s comments are documented by German journalist Peter Seewald in a book entitled Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times, published Tuesday.
This signifies quite a shift from comments from the Pope that eluded that condom use increases the problem of HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa, much to the chagrin of AIDS activists. In his interviews with Seewald, Pope Benedict states that it is acceptable to use condoms to prevent the spread of disease, but its stance on condom usage for birth control remains the same.
This shift in opinion might allow Catholic-based HIV/AIDS services to distribute condoms as a prevention method. This is crucial for addressing the spread of the disease in sub-Saharan Africa, where Catholicism is growing faster than anywhere else in the world, and where 25 percent of HIV/AIDS services are provided by Catholic aid organizations and vast numbers of people rely on the church for services. The Pope’s statements also cast light on the importance of addressing the disease ahead of World AIDS Day (Dec. 1) and in conjunction with the release earlier this week of the United Nations Report on the Global AIDS Epidemic.