ROME, December 21, 2010 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Pope Benedict XVI did not approve the use of condoms for any reason, whether to prevent the spread of AIDS or for contraception in any circumstances, a new note from the Vatican’s doctrinal office has said.
In a statement issued today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an office the pope himself headed for 24 years, has said that following the release of certain sections of the new interview book “Light of the World” “a number of erroneous interpretations have emerged.”
These have “caused confusion concerning the position of the Catholic Church regarding certain questions of sexual morality.”
“The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thought,” said the statement.
Instead, the pope was recommending “humanly and ethically acceptable ways of behaving which respect the inseparable connection between the unitive and procreative meaning” of natural sex between spouses.
The pope told journalist Peter Seewald that for “some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.”
The pope followed the comments, saying that the Church “does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.”
The publication of the comments, out of context and three days before the full text was available to the public, touched off a firestorm, in which media outlets around the world claimed the pope had “approved” condom use, and even that the teaching of the Church had changed regarding contraception.
The CDF, however, has clarified, saying that these comments have been “repeatedly manipulated” for purposes “entirely foreign” to the pope’s intention.
“The words of the Pope – which specifically concern a gravely disordered type of human behaviour, namely prostitution – do not signify a change in Catholic moral teaching or in the pastoral practice of the Church.”
“The Holy Father was talking neither about conjugal morality nor about the moral norm concerning contraception,” the note continues.
The note also dismisses the suggestion that the use of a condom by HIV-infected prostitutes could constitute a “lesser evil.” This interpretation, it says, is erroneous since, “An action which is objectively evil, even if a lesser evil, can never be licitly willed.”
The note summarizes the intention of the pope’s comments: “The Church teaches that prostitution is immoral and should be shunned. However, those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another – even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity.”
Read the complete statement here.