Pope Benedict XVI surprised his flock and the rest of the world for practically stating in an interview with a German Catholic journalist that condoms can be used in certain cases, and he even gave an example of what that case could be.
The interview will come out in a book "Light of the World", excerpts of which have been made public with Vatican approval. The BBC has the excerpted transcript.
What is indeed unexpected is that His Holiness was not just speaking in theological terms but even gave an example of when condom use may be allowed. This is what can be called a pastoral application. However the remarks don't definitely say a judgment on the morality of condom use, which is still under study by Vatican theologians.
However the Pope's remarks will not drastically alter Church teaching on contraception nor its moral stance in human sexuality. The remarks cannot be taken out of its context. The Pope insists that sexuality must be humanized and people have to go beyond the latex for the solution!
Catholics and HIV advocates are debating the ramifications of the papal opinion. Any papal remark be it in social issues, politics cannot be ignored. This remark is a tsunami for it deals with sexuality, which no Pope since Paul VI has said anything extraordinary.
But what is sure is that Pope Benedict XVI is not clueless on HIV and sexuality issues (as what some secularists allege) and that he is sending a signal to the Catholic Church about a new way of looking at a contentious issue,
This is sure to douse cold water on the anti RH bill advocates in the Philippines who have threatened fire and brimstone. The international press has taken notice on the Philippines and it will be interesting to watch what happens next! While the Pope will not junk traditional teaching, he wants new ways of looking at sexuality issues.