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Pope Says that Condoms Can Be Used in Certain Cases

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According to a Yahoo news story, Pope Benedict XVI said that condoms are permissible in certain cases. In his new book the pontiff writes that condoms are justified for male prostitutes who want to stop the spread of AIDS.

The book, titled “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Time,” was released on Nov. 16, 2010.

The church has long opposed the use of condoms because they are a form of contraceptive. The Vatican has always been criticized for its stance against condoms.

Benedict pointed out that condoms are not a “moral solution,” according to the article. He said that in the cases of male prostitutes, they could be justified “in the intention of reducing the risk of infection.”

Benedict said that justification for this use is “a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way of living sexually.”

He used the example of male prostitutes as opposed to married couples where one spouse is infected. Church officials in Africa have pressured the Vatican to approve use of condoms for monogamous couples in order to protect the uninfected spouse from infection.

In 2009 while traveling to Africa, the Pope drew heavy criticism from the UN, AIDS activists and European governments when he said that the AIDS problem in Africa could not be resolved through the use of condoms. He said that condoms would actually worsen the problem.

In his book Benedict said that condoms were not the way to deal with AIDS, and in other parts of the book he reaffirmed the church teachings on contraception and abortion by saying, “How many children are killed who might one day have been geniuses, who could have given humanity something new, who could have given us new Mozart or some new technical discovery?”

In the book he also repeated the church’s position that the only sure way to prevent AIDS is to practice abstinence and marital fidelity.

Add a Comment7 Comments

In the sentence "The Vatican has always been criticized for its stance against condoms" I said nothing about the year 2009. And yes the Vatican has indeed always been criticized for that stance.
I disagree with Tim Curran and you on the use of the passive voice as being "bad journalism." It is nitpicking in my opinion. Furthermore journalism is not a science.
I did not interview the pope and so I do not have a direct quote. Therefore I reported what another reporter said in the Yahoo story.
If I had wanted to say something original I would have written an editorial, and my blog was not an editorial.
You have gone to painstaking lengths to criticize my blog for its content and journalistic style. I do not shy away from criticisms of my writing. I do object, however, when the criticisms have an offensive and pompous tone, as yours have. This serves no purpose.

November 26, 2010 - 8:49pm

I would like to pass on this interesting information to you in light of the fact that you stated that no where does the pope use the word "justified" in regard to condom use. In the second paragraph of an AP news release dated Nov. 25,which is titled "Pope's remarks on condoms sow widespread confusion," the following sentences can be found: "Days after the release of Pope Benedict XVI's comments that condoms can be justified to prevent the spread of HIV, there is widespread confusion about exactly what he was trying to say. The remarks have put some of the strictest defenders of church teachings in the awkward position of potentially disagreeing with the pontiff." He may not have used the word "justified" but justification of condom use was implied if not downright assumed. Papal pronouncements are very often open to interpretation to such a degree that even church officials can be confused by them. The sentence in the third paragraph of this AP news release reads, "Some bishops are even seeking clarification from the Vatican." This is in reference to his recent comments on condoms.

November 26, 2010 - 3:37pm

I don't understand how you can confuse the fact that I said the Vatican has always been criticized for its anti condom stance, with the fact that the Pope came under under criticism on condom use while on a trip to Africa in 2009. I realize you don't like the passive voice, but that is neither here nor there.
Sorry, you are mistaken about the source of my article. The source was indeed a Yahoo news story titled "Pope says condoms acceptable in certain cases."
I believe the Pope's words are open to interpretation, and I have heard variations on what he actually said about condom use. Nevertheless, I reported on a Yahoo news story, and clearly identified it as a source. So go to the source if you want to dispute the information.
By the way, a lot of the mainstream media was actually reporting that the Pope was now approving condom use, and not just in "certain cases" as I stated. I hope you corrected them.

November 26, 2010 - 8:51am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anna Portela)

It's not confusion. It's that your evidence doesn't support your claim. Again, "In 2009" <> "always".

And, yes, passive voice in journalism IS a problem. Tim Curran, for example, calls it simply "bad journalism" (http://blog.timcurran.com/?p=202) but the short-and-long nearly its only legitimate journalistic use (headlines excepted) is when protecting one's sources. Which, presumably, is not the case here.

It's also an easy fix. E.g., "Many groups have criticized the Vatican's stance on condoms" is active, avoids the overreaching "always" (and is hence supportable), and is three words shorter to boot.

I stand corrected on the headline. I read a number of Yahoo! news stories on the subject but missed the one with your headline. And, yes, I posted corrections for most of them.

Yes, I, too, have seen many variations of Benedict's words reported. That was, in fact, pretty much my initial point. We can report what other reporters say Benedict said or we can report what he actually said. The former is (yes, in my opinon) simply journalistic narcissism. The latter is, with Google so easily at our fingertips, ridiculously easy. If you have nothing original to add, why not simply post a link to the original story?

Thanks for your reply.

November 26, 2010 - 7:46pm
EmpowHER Guest

Terrible headline, sloppy reporting. I wonder if Ms. Portela has even seen the book in question, let alone read it.

The Pope did NOT say either that condoms are "permissible" or "justified". He merely said that an HIV-positive male prostitute using a condom is demonstrating some moral awareness of his responsibility vis-a-vis AIDS. Benedict was applauding the moral awareness, NOT the use of a condom, which remains against Church teaching. He did not say using a condom to prevent AIDS was licit; he said the demonstration of moral responsibility was hopeful.

And what's with "The Vatican has always been criticized for its stance against condoms." Passive voice, Ms. Portela, is anathema to good reporting. This sentence tells us nothing. "Always"? And criticized BY WHOM?

November 25, 2010 - 6:08pm
(reply to Anonymous)

Please reread the paragraph where I said the Pope drew criticism from AIDS activists, European governments etc. for his stance on condoms. The Pope cannot be cannot be dissociated from the Vatican obviously. And I can say with certainty that the Vatican has traditionally received heavy criticism for its anti condom position.
At the very beginning of the article I quoted the source of my article which was a Yahoo news story. That is how I gathered the information for the article.
Thank you for your comments.

November 25, 2010 - 8:36pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anna Portela)

Nevertheless, the sentence should be removed from the article. It has two problems: first, the passive voice robs it of any meaningful contribution: it doesn't tell us anything you don't state more clearly later. Second, the use of the word "always" overstates your point. The paragraph you mention begins, "In 2009 while traveling to Africa...." So which is it? "In 2009", or "always"?

"the source of my article ... was a Yahoo news story".

Your headline, "Pope says that condoms can be used in certain cases", certainly did not come from Yahoo!. And forgive me, but what you're describing is simply lazy. All you've reported was some other reporter's interpretation of what Benedict said.

Here are Benedict's actual words:

"There may be a basis in the case of 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.... She [the Catholic Church] of course does not regard it [condom use] 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."

Note that nowhere in that statement does Benedict use words such as "permission" or "justification" with respect to condom usage. The gist of his words, in fact, should be pretty clear: insofar as the prostitute is attempting to assume some moral responsibility vis-a-vis HIV, he is to be lauded. It is not the use of the condom, but the demonstration of moral awareness, which Benedict is applauding.

Look, I understand that we all lead busy lives. But really, Benedict's actual statement is not exactly hard to find; googling and reading it took me less than two minutes. Surely an adequate price to pay in the name of accuracy in media.

November 25, 2010 - 11:10pm
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