Pope condones condom use in some cases

POPE Benedict XVI says in a new book that the use of condoms can be justified in some cases, such as for male prostitutes seeking to prevent the spread of HIV.

Church teaching has long opposed condoms since they are a form of artificial contraception. The Vatican has been harshly criticised for taking such a position, given the Aids crisis.

The pontiff makes the comments in "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times", a book-length interview with a German journalist.

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Benedict said that for male prostitutes - for whom contraception isn't a central issue - condoms are not a moral solution. But he said they could be justified "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection".

The Pope drew unprecedented criticism from European governments, international organisations and scientists in March 2009 when he told reporters, during a flight to Africa, that condoms would not resolve the Aids problem there but, on the contrary, increase it.

Although opposition to condoms is a long-standing church position, the Vatican felt constrained to step in and say the Pope wanted to stress that a reliance on condoms distracted from the need for proper education in sexual conduct.

Benedict also says in the book that if a pope is physically, psychologically or spiritually incapable of doing his job, then he has the "right, and under some circumstances, an obligation to resign."

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