Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal: Condoms May Be Used in Some Situations

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal: Condoms May Be Used in Some Situations

Article excerpt

I appeared in a Dutch TV show last Saturday, talking about Pope John Paul II's legacy and the challenges facing the next papacy The program has become a hot property, but, alas, not because of anything I said.

It was another guest, Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who grabbed headlines with his comments on condoms.

"When someone is HIV-infected and his partner says, 'I want to have sexual relations with you,' I would say, do not do it," Danneels said. "But if he does it all the same he should use a condom. Otherwise he adds a sin against the fifth commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill,' to a sin against the sixth, 'Thou shalt not commit adultery'"

Later, Danneels said: "It is a matter of prevention to protect oneself against a disease or against death. You cannot judge that morally to be on the same level as using a condom as method of birth-control." The cardinal added that bishops must be practical in their interpretation of rules.

A spokesperson for Danneels later clarified, in response to a question from the Dutch network, that the cardinal was not talking only about partners in a marriage, but also extramarital sex.

"That does not mean the cardinal is promoting extramarital sex," the spokesperson said.

Especially in light of recent remarks by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, that condoms should not be used to block transmission of HIV (in part, Lopez said, because the virus can penetrate a latex condom), Danneels' statements received wide coverage. News agencies reported that the 70-year-old Belgian prelate had "challenged" or even "contradicted" church teaching.

Not so, according to Redemptorist Fr. Brian Johnstone, a moral theologian at Rome's prestigious Alphonsian Academy,

"From what I understand based on news reports, what the cardinal said is consistent with traditionally accepted principles in Catholic moral theology for dealing with complex moral situations," Johnstone told NCR Jan. …

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