Commentators discuss Pope Benedict XVI's comments that the use of condoms is acceptable in exceptional circumstances, such as for a male prostitute.
In the Times Libby Purves expresses astonishment [subscription required]:
"The last two words, for me, are the dynamite. Living sexuality! And in the context of a gay prostitute! Never mind the Aids issue; lay that aside for the moment, and just observe that the words come from a Pope seen as a rottweiler, a hardline enforcer of strict doctrine, the Cardinal who said all homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and an evil. 'A more human way of living sexuality' ...!"
The editor of the Catholic weekly the Tablet Catherine Pepinster explains in the Independent that the Pope's announcement remains consistent with Catholic teachings:
"He's not chucking overboard the Catholic Church's traditional stance against artificial birth control; rather, he is suggesting the prophylactic is used to prevent harm. Catholic teaching says sexual intercourse should be open to the creation of life - that is a good - but various Catholic theologians and cardinals have said for some time that condoms could be used to help halt the evil of the spread of disease and death."
Andrew Brown says in the Guardian that in the example of male prostitutes conception is impossible, but the question is trickier for the majority of people:
"The really interesting question is whether his remarks are supposed to apply even in cases where conception would be possible: may a female prostitute demand that her customers use condoms (assuming for the moment that either party takes much notice of the pope's opinions)? May a wife whose husband is infected? May a husband who has married an HIV positive woman?"
Former editor of the Catholic Herald Cristina Odone says in the Telegraph that this should put an end to the difficulty she had in answering questions on the church's ban on condoms in Africa:
"Atheist hate-mongers will have to change their script. The philosopher Pope has freed his people from an ugly ghetto. We languished there, vulnerable targets of strident secularists who portrayed the teaching on condoms as the essence of a backward Church. We were full of self-doubt as we had to defend the indefensible. Now, Benedict has sprung us out of this captivity: we can get on and do good."
In the Guardian Stephen Bates wonders if the Pope's shift on condoms is the thin end of the wedge, and what else may change:
"If this can change, what else might follow, if not under this ageing pontiff then his successor? We already have some married priests, converted from Anglicanism. What if the next pope, in response to a divine revelation to answer the shortage of vocations, decided that women could be ordained too? Where would Church of England refugees be then?"