Spanish bishops defy Pope by advocating condoms in Aids fight

Spain's Catholic bishops have defied Vatican dogma on contraception by accepting for the first time the use of condoms to prevent the spread of Aids.

"Condoms have their place in the co-ordinated and global prevention of Aids ... It's the appropriate way to tackle such a serious problem," the spokes-man for Spain's Episcopal Conference, Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, said in an unprecedented volte-face. He had just met the Health Minister, Elena Salgado, to discuss co-operation in the fight against Aids.

This is the first time a spokesman for the Spanish Catholic hierarchy has declared himself so strongly in favour of condoms. Last November, Padre Camino condemned a government anti-Aids campaign that recommended the use of condoms with the slogan, "For you, for everyone, use it", saying it was "seriously false" to assert that condoms prevented the spread of Aids.

He was upholding the longstanding Vatican line that condoms were not effective. Last June, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council of the Family, told churchmen in Madrid that using contraceptives was "a form of Russian roulette" in fighting Aids. The Vatican made no immediate response to the bishops' statement, but from Vatican City the Pontifical Council's health spokesman, Bishop Jose Luis Redrado Marchite, who is Spanish, said condom use was "a measure Catholic morality condemns".

Padre Camino insisted that traditional methods of abstinence and fidelity remained of fundamental importance, but Ms Salgado countered that fidelity was not necessarily a sufficient protection against Aids, and abstinence was unrealistic for most people. She added that her ministry sought to protect the health of everyone, "whatever their creed".

The bishops' dramatic turnaround was provoked by a document in The Lancet last November signed by 150 experts from 36 countries that urged people to protect themselves from Aids with a three-way strategy of abstinence, fidelity and condoms.

The cordiality between the cleric and the minister is an exception to the tension between the Church and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's socialist government. Bishops have strongly opposed government plans to make divorce easier, permit gay marriage, cut church tax breaks and reduce religious influence in classrooms.

Last November, attempts from the pulpit to mobilise anti-government street demonstrations were stopped only on the word of senior archbishops, indicating deep divisions within the church. This is the first indication of common ground. The veteran progressive theologian Enrique Miret Miranda said Spain's Catholic Church "had no option but to bow to reality". The gospels said nothing about contraception, Fr Miret Miranda said. He added that it was always preferable to make love with a condom than infect someone with Aids.

A total of 125,000 Spaniards are HIV-positive, according to official statistics. A senior professor of viral pathology, Rafael Najera, congratulated the Church on its "historic initiative, albeit overdue". Spain's federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transsexuals welcomed the new thinking as "absolutely inevitable" and hoped the Catholic Church elsewhere would follow suit. The Labour and Social Affairs Minister, Jesus Caldera, said he was pleased the Church had "rectified ... a position that was antiquated and indifferent to citizens' rights."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Billie Piper as Brona in Penny Dreadful
tvReview: It’s business as usual in Victorian London. Let’s hope that changes as we get further into the new series spoiler alert
Life and Style
A nurse tends to a recovering patient on a general ward at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham
health
News
science
Arts and Entertainment
No Offence
tvReview: No Offence has characters who are larger than life and yet somehow completely true to life at the same time spoiler alert
News
Chuck Norris pictured in 1996
people
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Lucas, I SCREAM DADDIO, Installation View, British Pavilion 2015
artWhy Sarah Lucas is the perfect choice to represent British art at the Venice Biennale
News
A voter placing a ballot paper in the box at a polling station
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
The Queen (Kristin Scott Thomas) in The Audience
theatreReview: Stephen Daldry's direction is crisp in perfectly-timed revival
Sport
football
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power