The Pope’s recent statement in a soon-to-be published book that the use of condoms could be ‘justified’ in certain circumstances has not only been heralded as a significant shift in the Catholic Church’s stance on contraception but, according to a survey we conducted during the papal visit earlier this year, also reflects more accurately the views of the majority of British Catholics.
‘Reducing the risk of infection’
During an interview with German journalist, Peter Seewald, Pope Benedict XIV admitted that the use of condoms could be justified by the Catholic Church if they are used ‘in the intention of reducing the risk of infection’. The Holy Father gave the example of male prostitutes as a situation in which the use of condoms, traditionally prohibited by the Catholic Church, would be permissible.
There has been much speculation by some that this radical comment represents a welcome u-turn in Church policy while others have argued that the Pope has not gone far enough in his stance on condoms. Certainly the Pope emphasised that he did not think condoms to be a ‘real or moral solution’ to HIV and the Vatican itself has issued a statement that the Pope’s words ‘cannot be defined as a revolutionary change’.
Whether or not these comments signal a revolution in official Catholic policy it is clear from our data that the majority of British Catholics would be likely to support a relaxation in the Church’s beliefs on condoms.
The Pope’s interview with Peter Seewald was carried out for a new book,Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times, which will be published in English tomorrow.