Pope Benedict XVI has raised some eyebrows by suggesting that the use of condoms by male prostitutes to prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases might be considered valid according the Catholic Church doctrine.
Pope Benedict seems to have fallen short of suggesting that condom use is an acceptable way to prevent the spread of disease by everyone. And, of course, the use of condoms as a means of contraception is still strictly forbidden. Still, the Pope seems to have opened a door that suggests that if condoms are acceptable for one thing, by certain people, why not a number of things by all people?
Some commentators suggest that Pope Benedict ought not to be mentioning condoms at all, but instead urging male prostitutes to refrain from having sex with other men for money, thus ending the possibility of getting a sexually transmitted disease to start with. Indeed, the theory seems to be, yes, having sex with men for money is a sin and ought not to happen, but if one insists on doing it, then by all means be responsible about it and use a condom.
The way this opens the door to other things, one can apply the same principle to, say, other kinds of sex besides gay sex for money. Yes, premarital and extra martial sex are sins according to Catholic Church teaching, but if one insists on doing it anyway, then by all means use a condom to be responsible and at least not infect your partner with an STD.
Of course condom use has the added effect of reducing the possibility of causing a pregnancy in a heterosexual encounter which is certainly against Catholic Church teaching, but seems to be something honored more in the breach than the observance by a great many Catholics.
The use of condoms to stop the spread of sexual transmitted diseases such as AIDS has been something that has been urged by government agencies, private groups, and even purveyors of popular culture for decades. The Catholic Church, adhering to a rather restrictive dogma about what it considers acceptable ways to have sex, has been somewhat slow (by about twenty five years) to come to the realization that its stance on condoms has contributed to unnecessary disease, suffering, and death.
Thus Pope Benedict, a man usually noted for his strict adherence to traditional church doctrine, has been praised in a number of quarters for showing just a hint of flexibility in this area. Does it presage more flexibility in sex and other areas? Most likely not immediately. The Catholic Church prides itself in not keeping up with the times, after all.
Source: Catholics, campaigners debate pope condom remarks, Frank Jordans and Jim Gomez, AP, November 21st, 2010