Pope clarifies his disapproval of condoms to prevent pregnancy

The Vatican yesterday clarified the Pope's controversial comments about condoms and HIV, saying he by no means suggested their use could be condoned as a means of avoiding an unwanted pregnancy.

The Vatican's moral watchdog, the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, issued a statement saying some had misunderstood the Pope's remarks in a book-length interview entitled Light of the World.

The Vatican has been under pressure from conservative theologians to issue such a clarification. In the book, Benedict said that condoms weren't the real or moral solution to battling HIV and Aids. But he said that condom use in some cases, such as for male prostitutes, could be a first step in a more moral and responsible human sexuality.

The Vatican statement reaffirmed that the church considered prostitution "gravely immoral". The Vatican stuck closely to what the Pontiff originally said, and stressed that he was not talking about sex between husband and wife or condom-use as a means of contraception.

"The idea that anyone could deduce from the words of Benedict XVI that it is somehow legitimate, in certain situations, to use condoms to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is completely arbitrary and is in no way justified either by his words or in his thoughts," the statement said.

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