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Pope Benedict attempted to clarify the Catholic Church’s anti-condom policy in a recent interview with a German journalist over the weekend, but only seems to have caused more confusion.

Basically, the pontiff affirmed the Vatican’s stance against artificial contraception (condoms, birth control pills, etc.) but also said there are extremely isolated situations — citing the example of an AIDS-infected male prostitute, aiming to prevent disease rather than pregnancy — where condoms could be considered a lesser evil. However, this is not a change in church policy, though the initial reports prompted cheers from AIDS activists, health officials and progressive Catholics, and a GetReligion post criticizing media outlets for misinterpreting the original interview.

David Gibson explains at Politics Daily:

But Catholic teaching has never totally barred the use of condoms to protect people from contracting the HIV virus that causes AIDS. And the Vatican has never issued a formal pronouncement on the matter other than to stress that abstinence is always the best means of prevention, even if it that is often impractical. Earlier this year the Vatican said it had shelved a study to determine whether, or what, Rome should say on the matter, deciding that it was preferable to leave the question open-ended, depending on the circumstances rather than making a blanket judgment. 

Check out the Associated Press and National Catholic Reporter for more on this story:

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