The Condom Conundrum

by Maureen Fiedler

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We’re seeing as good a sideshow as Catholicism produces. According to Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press, many “prominent conservative Roman Catholics in the U.S.” are questioning the Vatican’s own explanation of what Pope Benedict said about condoms in a new book, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.

As best anyone can decipher, the Pope approves of the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and thus save lives. (I’ve always thought that this is an obvious “pro-life” position). But apparently, several of the most orthodox Catholics who have been bad-mouthing condoms for any reason – even to save lives –await a formal papal statement. Some have even questioned whether the Vatican spokesperson, Rev. Frederico Lombardi, accurately interpreted the papal position.

In an ironic twist, Jon O’Brien of Catholics for Choice welcomed the statement. In fact, I think his statement is perhaps the first time I have ever seen his organization praise something the Pope has said!

But the conservatives are the most intriguing. After years of defending papal positions no matter what they say, some of these conservatives are obviously scrambling to find a plausible way to change their own public statements. Or maybe they are quietly lobbying the Vatican to modify its already modified position on condoms. Whew! Change can be really tough for some folks – maybe tougher than it is for Benedict XVI.

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