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A few days ago I wrote about the Pope’s decision to condone condom use in certain situations. Today, news is out that condoms used to prevent HIV are even OK for heterosexual sex. The AP reports:

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, told reporters Tuesday that he asked the pope whether he intended his comments to apply only to men. Benedict replied that it really didn’t matter; the important thing was that the person took into consideration the life of another.

"I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine," Lombardi said. "He told me no. The problem is this: … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship."

"This is if you’re a man, a woman, or a transsexual. … The point is it’s a first step of taking responsibility, of avoiding passing a grave risk [of HIV] onto another," Lombardi said. (AP/Yahoo News)

Many, including myself were (and still are) very skeptical about this. We are still talking about the Catholic Church here, folks. Some said that the Vatican’s change of policy was deeply homophobic, I received these comments on my Daily Kos diary:

"It’s ok for "gay men" because it’s a step in "their recognition that they’re doing something immoral."

I’m sure the Anti-Christ prayed long and hard to receive that philosophical gem." (David Kroning II)

"Homophobia going hand in with misogyny. Ok for male prostitutes, but not for female prostitutes (or women married to HIV positive husbands), I guesss because condoms might also then interfere with conception? Can’t have that!" (elmo)

There is so much wrong with this that I do not really know where to begin but I’ll give it a try – There is no birth control issue in this example.

Excuse me for not jumping up and down with excitement but this changes nothing. (stevej)

"of all the 9 million reasons to choose to endorse the use of condoms (sorta kinda) the church uses: male prostitution.

ok. yeah." ( mdmslle)

I do understand the skepticism, and in many ways I am critical of the Church. But I do commend this announcement, and I am pleased to see that the Church is very slowly stepping into the 21st (20th?) century.

While I still say this with some degree of reserve, I do believe that people who thought the Pope’s announcement was homophobic are wrong. The Vatican’s announcement at no point implies that HIV/AIDS is only a problem in the gay community, and they clearly say that preventing HIV is more important than any theological argument against condom use.

With over 22.4 million people infected with AIDS in Africa along (54% are women) it is high time that the Church advocates for condom use. It is the responsible thing to do.