Benedict XVI Approves Artificial Contraception in Certain Situations


Brother Michael Dimond


This article recaps our audio program of November 28, 2010 – Benedict XVI Did Approve Condom Use!  It also contains a response to the Vatican’s recent note about interpretations of Benedict XVI’s book, Light of the World.  Defenders of Benedict XVI claim that the Vatican’s “clarification” proves that Benedict XVI did not endorse artificial contraception in any way.  In this article, I refute that idea by examining the actual statements of Benedict XVI and the Vatican’s note which attempted to clarify them. 


Part 1:


Part 2:


In his book, Light of the World pages 117-119, Benedict XVI states the following:


Question: “In Africa you stated that the Church’s traditional teaching has proven to be the only sure way to stop the spread of HIV.  Critics, including critics from the Church’s own ranks, object that it is madness to forbid a high-risk population to use condoms.”


Answer from Benedict XVI: “The media coverage completely ignored the rest of the trip to Africa on account of a single statement… In my remarks I was not making a general statement about the condom issue, but merely said, and this is what caused such great offense, that we cannot solve the problem by distributing condoms.  Much more needs to be done… There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants.  But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection.  That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.”


Question: “Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?


Answer from Benedict XVI: “She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement towards a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.”[1]


If Benedict XVI’s position on condom use is that condoms can never be used, then he would have answered the direct question on that point with a clear “no.”  He would have issued a statement such as: “The Catholic Church never allows the use of condoms.”  Or he would have said: “The Catholic Church never allows the use of condoms in any situation.”  Of course, Benedict XVI didn’t make any such statement, despite being directly asked about the issue.  Did he say that condoms can never be used?  No.  He said that a person may have a basis for using a condom if that person has “the intention of reducing the risk of infection”.


Some people have claimed that Benedict XVI was only allowing or discussing the use of a condom in a case of homosexual sex.  They focus on the fact that Benedict XVI used the example of a male prostitute.  The first thing to consider, however, is that the term “male prostitute” does not refer to a person who engages exclusively in homosexual sex.  Benedict XVI’s example can include heterosexual activity.  Indeed, Benedict XVI does not even say that a “male prostitute” is the only one to whom his principle can apply.  Rather, he gives a “male prostitute” as one example.


Moreover, after Benedict XVI’s statements on condoms were published, the Vatican’s press secretary, Father Federico Lombardi, had a conversation with Benedict XVI concerning the controversy.  Father Lombardi proceeded to issue a clarification and an interpretation of Benedict XVI’s statements about condoms.  Some of Lombardi’s comments were carried in The Telegraph:  


“The 83-year-old pontiff's initial comment on condoms was contained in the book ‘Light of the World’, extracts of which were published at the weekend, but they were so ambiguous that the Vatican was forced to yesterday [Tue] offer clarification and interpretation.  The Vatican's spokesman said that the Pope intended that the change of policy should apply to anybody with HIV/Aids, on the basis that preventing another person from being infected was the lesser of two evils, even if it meant averting a possible pregnancy.  ‘This is if you're a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We're at the same point. The point is it's a first step of taking responsibility, of avoiding passing a grave risk onto another,’ Father Federico Lombardi said…  Monsignor Jacques Suaudeau, an expert at the Vatican's bioethics advisory board, said Benedict was articulating the idea in Catholic doctrine that there are degrees of evil. ‘Contraception is not the worst evil. The church does not see it as good, but the church does not see it as the worst," he said. ‘Abortion is far worse. Passing on HIV is criminal. That is absolute irresponsibility.’”[2]


As we see, Lombardi confirms that Benedict XVI’s statements apply to men and women, heterosexual and homosexual acts.  That refutes the lies spread by some defenders of Benedict XVI on this point.  Furthermore, John Allen is CNN’s senior Vatican correspondent.  He admitted that Benedict XVI’s statement on condoms was essentially the same thing that a Vatican commission said in 2006.  The 2006 Vatican commission said that condom use might be justifiable, if the primary intention was to avoid passing a deadly disease to another, not avoiding a pregnancy.  Allen clearly understands what Benedict XVI is saying: (This video contains Allen’s reaction to Benedict XVI’s statements)


The Vatican decides to issue a special note concerning Benedict XVI’s comments on condoms


On December 19, 2010 the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a special note regarding certain interpretations of Benedict XVI’s book Light of the World.  Supporters of Benedict XVI claim that this note proves that Benedict XVI never approved condom use in any situation.  However, when we look at the evidence, we will see that the false traditionalists who use this note are wrong.  The Vatican and Benedict XVI do indeed approve of condom use in situations where not using one would transmit a deadly disease. 




Note on the banalization of sexuality
Regarding certain interpretations of "Light of the World"


Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, December 19, 2010, Note on the banalization of sexuality – Regarding certain interpretations of “Light of the World”:


“Some interpretations have presented the words of the Pope as a contradiction of the traditional moral teaching of the Church. This hypothesis has been welcomed by some as a positive change and lamented by others as a cause of concern – as if his statements represented a break with the doctrine concerning contraception and with the Church’s stance in the fight against AIDS. In reality, the words of the Pope – which specifically concern a gravely disordered type of human behaviour, namely prostitution (cf. Light of the World, pp. 117-119) – do not signify a change in Catholic moral teaching or in the pastoral practice of the Church... 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 thought.”[3]


Before I quote more of the note, it’s important to emphasize one point.  As I mentioned earlier, many have said that Benedict XVI was only speaking about condom use by homosexuals (because he gave an example of a male prostitute).  As we see here, the Vatican’s note speaks of any kind of prostitution.  The Vatican’s note also cites the book, Light of the World, and the pages on which Benedict XVI’s statements were made.  This demonstrates that the note is repeating what Benedict XVI put into the book, which we have quoted and analyzed above.  As we showed, Benedict XVI does not exclude all condom use.


Also consider that the Vatican’s note does not state anywhere that Benedict XVI words were not accurately recorded.  They could never say that the words were not accurately recorded because Benedict XVI personally approved the translations.  Benedict XVI even assisted in the cover design of the German translation of the book: he personally wrote “Light of the World” on the cover in German. 

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Many false traditionalists have emphasized that, in its note of clarification, the Vatican boasts that Benedict XVI’s statements in the book “do not signify a change in Catholic moral teaching.”  So what?  Such a claim means nothing.  John Kerry, who favors abortion, claims that he personally accepts Catholic teaching on that issue.  A claim to be faithful to Catholic teaching means nothing.  What matters is the substance of what one believes or teaches.  Therefore, the only thing that matters is what Benedict XVI actually said and what the Vatican’s official position on condom use is articulated to be.  I will now quote another portion of the note, and we will see even more clearly what the Vatican’s official position actually is:


“In this regard, it must be noted that the situation created by the spread of AIDS in many areas of the world has made the problem of prostitution even more serious. Those who know themselves to be infected with HIV and who therefore run the risk of infecting others, apart from committing a sin against the sixth commandment are also committing a sin against the fifth commandment – because they are consciously putting the lives of others at risk through behaviour which has repercussions on public health. In this situation, the Holy Father clearly affirms that the provision of condoms does not constitute ‘the real or moral solution’ to the problem of AIDS and also that ‘the sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalization of sexuality’ in that it refuses to address the mistaken human behaviour which is the root cause of the spread of the virus. In this context, however, it cannot be denied that anyone who uses a condom in order to diminish the risk posed to another person is intending to reduce the evil connected with his or her immoral activity. In this sense the Holy Father points out that the use of a condom ‘with the intention of reducing the risk of infection, can be a first step in a movement towards a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.’The Church teaches that prostitution is immoral and should be shunned. However, those involved in prostitution who are HIV positive and who seek to diminish the risk of contagion by the use of a condom may be taking the first step in respecting the life of another – even if the evil of prostitution remains in all its gravity. This understanding is in full conformity with the moral theological tradition of the Church.”[4]


As we see, the Vatican’s note indicates that those who use a condom to prevent someone from getting a deadly disease are doing the more moral thing.  The note teaches that by using a condom, as opposed to not using one, a person is “taking the first step in respecting the life of another.”  It even says that one who uses a condom intends “to reduce the evil connected with his or her immoral activity”!  That is false and heretical.  Using a condemn increases, not decreases, the evil connected with the immoral activity.  It potentially removes the possibility of life for another, rather than respecting it.


According to them, it’s a worse evil to give someone a deadly disease than to possibly deprive someone of life by the use of the contraceptive.  This is complete and total heresy.  This is indeed a new teaching of the Vatican II sect.  Since heretics always contradict themselves and use ambiguity, it doesn’t matter that the Vatican contradicts this affirmation in other places.  The fact remains that it teaches that using a condom, to prevent giving a disease to another, can be the better thing to do. 


Thus, contrary to the dishonest liars who will attempt to justify any heresy of Benedict XVI, the Vatican’s new position on condoms, which was articulated by Benedict XVI in his book, Light of the World, is as follows:


They are not giving a wholesale approval of condoms.  They are not encouraging people to use them in general.  They are quick and vocal to point out that you may not use condoms solely to avoid pregnancy, and that condom use is not the solution itself.  However, Benedict XVI and the Vatican do approve the use of condoms in the situations where a person might otherwise transmit a deadly disease.  Their position is that giving someone a deadly disease is worse than preventing a new life altogether.  This is a completely heretical position.  It proves that Benedict XVI and the Vatican II sect do not condemn artificial contraception in all situations. 


Undoubtedly Benedict XVI’s statement has already caused (and will continue to cause) countless people to use condoms.  Those people will justify their use of condoms by saying: “I might have a disease that could be passed on to my partner.”  Those struggling with the issue of artificial contraception will use this “excuse” of Benedict XVI, and they will give in to their sinful desires as a result. 




Pope Pius XI, Casti Connubii (#’s 53-56), Dec. 31, 1930: “  “Since, therefore, openly departing from the uninterrupted Christian tradition some recently have judged it possible solemnly to declare another doctrine regarding this question, the Catholic Church, to whom God has entrusted the defense of the integrity and purity of morals, standing erect in the midst of the moral ruin which surrounds her, in order that she may preserve the chastity of the nuptial union from being defiled by this foul stain, raises her voice in token of her divine ambassadorship and through Our mouth proclaims anew: any use whatsoever of matrimony exercised in such a way that the act is deliberately frustrated in its natural power to generate life is an offence against the law of God and of nature, and those who indulge in such are branded with the guilt of a grave sin.”




Pope Pius VI, condemning the Synod of Pistoia, Bull “Auctorem fidei," August 28, 1794: “[The Ancient Doctors] knew the capacity of innovators in the art of deception. In order not to shock the ears of Catholics, they sought to hide the subtleties of their tortuous maneuvers by the use of seemingly innocuous words such as would allow them to insinuate error into souls in the most gentle manner. Once the truth had been compromised, they could, by means of slight changes or additions in phraseology, distort the confession of the faith which is necessary for our salvation, and lead the faithful by subtle errors to their eternal damnation.  This manner of dissimulating and lying is vicious, regardless of the circumstances under which it is used.  For very good reasons it can never be tolerated in a synod of which the principal glory consists above all in teaching the truth with clarity and excluding all danger of error.


"Moreover, if all this is sinful, it cannot be excused in the way that one sees it being done, under the erroneous pretext that the seemingly shocking affirmations in one place are further developed along orthodox lines in other places, and even in yet other places corrected; as if allowing for the possibility of either affirming or denying the statement, or of leaving it up the personal inclinations of the individual – such has always been the fraudulent and daring method used by innovators to establish error. It allows for both the possibility of promoting error and of excusing it.


"It is as if the innovators pretended that they always intended to present the alternative passages, especially to those of simple faith who eventually come to know only some part of the conclusions of such discussions which are published in the common language for everyone's use. Or again, as if the same faithful had the ability on examining such documents to judge such matters for themselves without getting confused and avoiding all risk of error. It is a most reprehensible technique for the insinuation of doctrinal errors and one condemned long ago by our predecessor Saint Celestine who found it used in the writings of Nestorius, Bishop of Constantinople, and which he exposed in order to condemn it with the greatest possible severity. Once these texts were examined carefully, the impostor was exposed and confounded, for he expressed himself in a plethora of words, mixing true things with others that were obscure; mixing at times one with the other in such a way that he was also able to confess those things which were denied while at the same time possessing a basis for denying those very sentences which he confessed.


"In order to expose such snares, something which becomes necessary with a certain frequency in every century, no other method is required than the following: WHENEVER IT BECOMES NECESSARY TO EXPOSE STATEMENTS WHICH DISGUISE SOME SUSPECTED ERROR OR DANGER UNDER THE VEIL OF AMBIGUITY, ONE MUST DENOUNCE THE PERVERSE MEANING UNDER WHICH THE ERROR OPPOSED TO CATHOLIC TRUTH IS CAMOUFLAGED.”





[1] Peter Seewald/Benedict XVI, Light of the World, Ignatius Press, pp. 117-119.


[3] L’Osservatore Romano, December 22-27, 2010 p. 11.

[4] L’Osservatore Romano, December 22-27, 2010 p. 11.