The Deacon's Bench

24popespan-cnd-articleLarge.jpg “In the book’s German and English editions, the text cited the example of a male prostitute, implying homosexual sex, in which a condom would not be a form of contraception. The church opposes contraception on the grounds that every sexual act should be open to procreation.

But questions emerged when the book’s Italian edition, excerpted by the Vatican newspaper on Saturday, used the feminine form of prostitute.

On Tuesday, [Vatican spokesman] Father [Frederico] Lombardi said that the Italian translation was an error, but that the pope had specifically told him that the issue was not procreation but rather disease prevention — regardless of gender.

‘I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine,’ Father Lombardi said. ‘He told me no.’ Father Lombardi said that he had spoken directly with the pope at least twice since Sunday and that Benedict had personally approved a statement he released on the condom question, indicating how adamant the pope was.

Benedict’s papacy has suffered from frequent communications missteps. But this time, it appeared that the pope was sending an intentional message. Father Lombardi said he had asked Benedict if he had recognized the risk in publishing a book of interviews in a complex media landscape where his words might be ‘misunderstood.’

‘The pope smiled,’ Father Lombardi said.”

— The New York Times report on the condom controversy, November 23, 2010.
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