Pope: Condoms can be justified in some cases

Pope: Condoms can be justified in some cases

The pontiff makes 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". The Vatican newspaper ran excerpts of the book today.

Church teaching has long opposed condoms since they're a form of artificial contraception. The Vatican has been harshly criticised for its position given the AIDS crisis.

Benedict said that for male prostitutes, for whom contraception isn't a central issue, condoms are not a moral solution. But he said they could be justified "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection."

Benedict drew unprecedented criticism from European governments, international organisations and scientists in March 2009 when he told reporters while flying to Africa that condoms would not resolve the AIDS problem there but, on the contrary, increase it.

The statement was condemned by France, Germany and the UN agency charged with fighting AIDS as irresponsible and dangerous.

While opposition to condoms is a long-standing church position, the Vatican felt constrained to step in and say Benedict wanted to stress that a reliance on condoms distracted from the need for proper education in sexual conduct.

Christian Weisner, of the pro-reform group We Are Church in the pope's native Germany, said it was "surprising, and if that's the case one can be happy about the pope's ability to learn."

The pope also says in the new book that if a pope is physically, psychologically or spiritually incapable of doing his job, then he has the "right, and under some circumstances, also an obligation to resign."

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