Pope Benedict XVI startles

When Pope Benedict said that in some cases condom use may be acceptable, he signaled a shift in the Vatican's traditional stance on contraceptives.

According to the BBC, the Church's ban on contraceptive use has been relaxed partially because of the AIDS epidemic. The pope talked about accepting the lesser of two evils and also admitted that condom use by prostitutes significantly lessens the risk of infection for both men and women.

According to The New York Times, when Benedict toured Africa the year before he said that AIDS could not be eliminated by condom use. Critics claimed that the pope was putting the church's stance on contraception over the lives of Africans infected with AIDS.

In his statement, the Pope claimed that the news media had misrepresented him and that he meant condoms are not the sole answer to ending AIDS.

"There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants."

The comments made by the pope mark a significant shift in the stance the Catholic church has hitherto taken towards contraception. However, though it seems like the church may be waffling morally, the decision seems to be based on a more "case-based" line of thinking where the church decides to support the lesser of two evils.

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