Belfast Telegraph

Catholic faithful welcome Pope's condom comments

Catholic church-goers in Belfast yesterday welcomed Pope Benedict XVI’s comments that appear to soften the Church’s doctrine on condom use.

In a ground-breaking interview with a German journalist, the Pope said that condoms are justified in some cases, such as male prostitutes seeking to stop the spread of HIV. The Catholic Church regards condoms (right) as artificial contraception which it has long opposed, but many Catholics, particularly in developed countries, have often ignored this teaching.

The Vatican’s stance has been widely criticised for contributing to the spread of AIDs and for exacerbating poverty in over-populated developing countries. Pope Benedict’s interview is being regarded as a radical U-turn after he said just last year during a trip to Africa that condoms would increase the AIDs crisis.

At Clonard Monastery in west Belfast yesterday there was overwhelming support for the Pope’s comments from Catholics leaving Sunday Mass.

Christine from Belfast described his words as “a very sensible way forward”.

“I think he is moving in the right direction, it reflects progress and I think it’s a sign of the times,” she said. Her aunt Maureen, at 83, is the same age as the Pontiff. She also welcomed his comments.

“I think it is up to the individual to decide (to use a condom),” she said.

“I think there are enough people in the world. God said ‘go forth and multiply’, but I think we’ve multiplied enough!”

Owen McNeill, from Dunmurry, also argued that overpopulation is a major issue and that the Pope needs to go further in relaxing the ban on condoms. The world’s population is just going out of orbit. I think the Church should allow contraception, it is better than abortion.”

His wife said the Catholic Church needed to reform its stance on contraception.

There was no mention of the papal comments during Mass yesterday by the Redemptorist Order of priests at Clonard.

Bridgean McCarvill (44) from Belfast also welcomed the Pope’s new view.

“Anything to move forward on this issue is a good thing. If young people are going to take part in underage sex then using a condom will help prevent sexually transmitted diseases.”

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