Pope Benedict XVI says in a new book that condoms can be justified for male prostitutes seeking to stop the spread of HIV.
This statement is a stunning turnaround for a church that has long opposed condoms and a pontiff who has blamed them for making the AIDS crisis worse.
The pontiff made the comments in a book-length interview with a German journalist, “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times,” which is being released Tuesday. The Vatican newspaper ran excerpts on Saturday.
Church teaching has opposed condoms because they’re a form of artificial contraception although it has never released an explicit policy about condoms and HIV. The Vatican has been harshly criticized in light of the AIDS crisis.
Benedict said that for male prostitutes – for whom contraception isn’t the central issue – condoms are not a moral solution. But he said they could be justified “in the intention of reducing the risk of infection.”
He called it “a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way of living sexuality.”
Benedict drew the wrath of the United Nations, European governments and AIDS activisits when he told reporters en route to Africa in 2009 that the AIDS problem on the continent couldn’t be resolved by distributing condoms. “On the contrary, it increases the problem,” he said then.
© MMX CBS Interactive. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.