In the News: Vatican rethinking condom ban?

Is it possible after all 20 years of looking the other way that the Vatican may actually be reconsidering its ban on the use of condoms -- if only to prevent AIDS for married couples? A report on seems to indicate that it does:
VATICAN CITY (AP) -- The Vatican is studying whether condoms can be condoned to help stem the tide of AIDS and a host of other bioethical issues such as stem cell research, officials said Tuesday.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, who heads the Vatican office for health care, was quoted over the weekend in Italy's La Repubblica daily as saying his office was preparing a document on the question of condoms and AIDS, and that it would be released soon.

Later, in typical corporate double-talk, Barragan backed off that original statement:
But on Tuesday, he clarified that his office was merely studying the issue at the request of the pope as part of a broader "dialogue" with other Vatican departments.

"We are conducting a very profound scientific, technical and moral study" on how to deal with married couples when one is infected with HIV, he told Vatican Radio.

It looks like the debate will focus not on overturning the bases of Catholic sexuali morality, but on defining what is a 'lesser evil' -- slow death by AIDS or violating a controversial Church teaching. Until now, the Church has steadfastly refused to allow married couples to avoid AIDS by using condoms. As James Carroll notes in a Boston Globe op-ed piece published today, "Even were the Vatican to change its position now -- and pray it does -- Catholics must still reckon with that betrayal."

Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium is one of the few voices of reason to emerge on the subject. According to CNN, "he has said it would be a sin for an HIV-positive person to have sex without a condom, since he or she would be violating the Fifth Commandment, "you shall not kill.""

As for the rest of the Cardinals, I can only ask, 'what did you do with the money your parents gave you to attend ethics and morality class?'

Let us hope that the congregations involved in this decision pull their heads out of their breviaries long enough to see the pile of corpses resulting from this particular teaching. As for myself, I am putting my money on B16 leaving the current teaching in place. Let them eat abstinence!
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