Reuters) - The use of condoms to stop the spread of AIDS may be justified in certain cases, Pope Benedict says in a new book that could herald the start of sea change in the Vatican's attitude to condoms.
In excerpts published in the Vatican newspaper on Saturday ahead of the book's publication next week, the pope cites the example of the use of condoms by prostitutes as "a first step toward moralization" even though condoms are "not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection."
While some Roman Catholic leaders have spoken in the past about the limited use of condoms in specific cases to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS as a lesser of two evils, this is the first time the pope has mentioned the possibility himself in public.
The Vatican newspaper unexpectedly published significant excerpts from the book on Saturday night, days before extracts were initially due to be made public.
The pope's words appeared to be a major shift in the Vatican's attitude. While no formal position existed in a Vatican document, the majority of Church leaders have been saying for decades that the use of condoms was not even part of the solution to fighting aids.
Is this the same Benny the Rat that I have grown to know and love? He is dealing with the facts on the ground. After only thirty years of head-in-the-sand denial the Vatican is taking a pragmatic approach to STD's? Knock me over with a feather! I do declare I must perambulate to my fainting couch, for I feel an attack of vapors coming on. Oh my stars and garters, common sense prescriptions coming from the Curia. Has the seventh seal opened up, should I be monitoring for signs of the Beast Of Babylon or listening for the hoof-beats of the four horsemen?