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AP Reports On ‘Significant’ Clarification Of Pope’s Comments On Condoms To Prevent HIV

The Associated Press/Washington Post reports that after questions arose about Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on the use of condoms to prevent HIV, which one translation “implied that he was referring primarily to homosexual sex, when condoms aren’t being used as a form of contraception,” Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi “told reporters Tuesday that he asked the pope whether he intended his comments to only apply to male prostitutes. Benedict replied that it really didn’t matter, that the important thing was the person in question took into consideration the life of the other, Lombardi said.”

Lombardi elaborated further: “I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine. He told me ‘no.’ The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship.” The pope’s comments were featured in a book titled “Light of the World,” which was released Tuesday.

The news service reports that this “clarification is significant. UNAIDS estimates that 22.4 million people in Africa are infected with HIV, and that 54 percent – or 12.1 million – are women. Heterosexual transmission of HIV and multiple, heterosexual partners are believed to be a major cause of the high infection rates in Africa.”

The AP/Washington Post continues: “In the book, the pope was not justifying or condoning gay sex or heterosexual sex outside of a marriage. Elsewhere in it, he reaffirms the Vatican opposition to homosexual acts and artificial contraception and reaffirms the inviolability of marriage between man and woman.”

The news service reports that “Lombardi said that Benedict knew full well that his new comments would provoke debate and discussion” (Winfield, 11/23).

In a separate article, the Associated Press reported on reaction from Africa: “From church leaders to AIDS activists, many Africans welcomed Pope Benedict XVI’s message that condoms could be morally justified in some cases, such as with male prostitutes to prevent the spread of HIV. Some disagreed with him.” The story features comments from a variety of people from across the continent (11/23).