By Hilary White

ROME, June 22, 2009 ( – Distributing condoms in schools “in the context of combating AIDS” “trivializes” sexuality and education and must be fought by concerned parents says a high-level Vatican official. In an official statement released last week, Agostino Cardinal Vallini, the pope's Vicar General of the diocese of Rome, responded to a decision by the civil authorities of the province of Rome to allow the distribution of condoms from vending machines in high schools.

Cardinal Vallini reiterated the “need to reaffirm that the educational road remains education for responsibility, especially for young people, in the use of sexuality, which is a gift of God's love.”

“Such an initiative can only be combated by the Church of Rome and the Christian families seriously affected by the education of their children,” he said.

In their decision to allow the vending machines, the provincial authorities claimed they “cannot find a consensus in the ecclesial community of Rome” on the issue of condom-use in the prevention of AIDS.

In a letter to Cardinal Vallini, Gianluca Peciola, provincial director of the Left and Freedom Group, “kindly asked” him not to speak out against the initiative. “I think that the objectives of the campaign have not been fully understood by means of mass communications and information has unfortunately concentrated on only the tabloid aspects,” he said.