BOSTON (CBS) — Sunday the Vatican rushed to clarify controversial comments made by the Pope on condom use.
“The Pope is not reforming or changing the teaching of the Church but he reaffirms it, putting it in the perspective of the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of love and responsibility,” said a Vatican spokesperson.
Catholic churchgoers had mixed reactions to the Pope Benedict XVI’s recent comments on condom use.
In a book due out Tuesday by a German journalist, Benedict suggests condoms should be used to prevent disease in certain cases, such as male prostitution.
“There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility,” Benedict said.
Alaza Gomes speaks with Boston area Catholics
Benedict drew fire from critics on a trip to Africa last year when he said condoms could not help the spread of AIDS.
In the book, Benedict says his point was only that condoms were not enough to prevent the disease.
Boston Catholic churchgoers had mixed reactions Sunday morning. “I think they’ve still got a long way to come instead of moving to the present realities,” said Steve Raciti. “But it’s maybe a step in the right direction.”
“I just don’t think it’s right,” said Eileen Lenner. “You know we’re Catholics we’re not supposed to do that.”
The Pope’s words do not carry the same weight as church law, and local theologians say this doesn’t mean sweeping change.
“It’s not going to lead to a wholesale overturn of the church’s teachings on birth control,” said Stephen Pope, Professor of Theology at Boston College.
“The Pope’s words struck me as common sense,” said Pope. “The use of condoms to prevent disease is different than the use to prevent conception and a lot of Bishops have been saying this for a long time.”
Local gay rights groups applauded the move towards safety but said the stand was confusing for a church historically against homosexuality.
“I don’t know whether to be discouraged because once again it doesn’t respect gay people in loving committed relationships as so many of us are, or to say at least there’s an acknowledgement that there are other forms of sexuality here,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of DignityUSA, a gay and lesbian Catholic advocacy group.