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Vatican preparing statement on condoms, AIDS

Written by: Staff

Rome, Apr 24: The Vatican will soon publish a statement on the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, an issue highlighted by a call from a leading cardinal to ease its ban on them, a Catholic Church official said.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, declined to reveal the contents of the document in an interview published in Yesterday's la Repubblica newspaper, but said Pope Benedict had asked his department to study the issue.

The former archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who was standard bearer for a moderate minority in the conclave that elected the Pope last year, called for a reform in an interview published in Italy on Friday.

The Vatican opposes condoms as a form of contraception, but several cardinals have said in recent years that using them is a lesser evil if the alternative is infection with AIDS.

''This is a very difficult and delicate subject that requires prudence,'' said Mexican-born Barragan.

''My department is studying this closely with scientists and theologians expressly assigned to draft a document that will be issued soon,'' he said.

The Catholic Church, which runs many hospitals and institutions to help AIDS victims, opposes the use of condoms and teaches that fidelity within heterosexual marriage, chastity and abstinence are the best way to stop the spread of AIDS.

It says promoting condoms to fight the spread of AIDS fosters immoral and hedonistic lifestyles and behaviour that will only contribute to its spread.

In his interview with the weekly L'Espresso, Martini backed up his call for a change in condom policy by referring to cases where one partner in a marriage is infected with AIDS.

''This person has an obligation to protect the other partner and the other partner also has to protect themselves,'' he said.

The Church disapproves of sexual intercourse outside marriage.

Barragan commented favourably on Martini's suggestion that the Church allow women who cannot get pregnant to use surplus frozen embryos from fertility clinics that usually dispose of them after a couple has undergone fertility treatment.


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