Pope Benedict XVI has said that condom use can be justified in some cases to help stop the spread of AIDS, the first Vatican exception to a long-held policy condemning condom use. …
The pope made clear that he considered the use of condoms a last resort and not a way to prevent conception. The example he gave of when they could be used was in the case of male prostitutes.
This news deserves a partial sigh of relief. The Catholic church’s ban on all contraception has caused great harm, especially with its stand against condom use in AIDS-infected developing countries. And remember, the last pope claimed that condom use increased the spread of AIDS.
There’s a crucial question and I’m not entirely sure of the answer. What about those who used condoms in the past, but whose use can now be seen to be justified? Did they still commit a mortal sin by using condoms and are they in danger of eternal damnation? Or is the fact that the act can now be justified tell us that it may have been justified in the past. Others may well be able to answer this better, but I think in cases like this, where ‘natural law’ is considered operating, what is now justified was justifiable in the past, given of course that there are no relevant differences. It’s quite different with the Church’s laws. It used to be a sin to eat meat on Friday; the fact that the law was changed does not effect the sinfulness of the past actions.
Of course, female priests will remain an abomination. A connection with this view and the pope’s example of male prostitutes signals the problem: with an all-male priesthood, women’s problems have a greatly diminished visibility. Still, it’s nice that he clarified the case of male prostitution; would he had done the same for, for example, mothers with children who are rightly afraid of AID or other serious diseases because of their partner’s behavior. It is unfortunately the case that it might be decided the use is justified to prevent one’s infecting others without being justified to prevent one’s getting infected.