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The Bishops Shift a Bit

December 12, 1987

The national campaign to contain AIDS will be facilitated by the revised policy statement of the U.S. Catholic Conference permitting church-related health-care providers and educators to furnish information about the role of condoms in reducing the risks of infection.

In the new statement the Catholic bishops stood firm in their opposition to artificial means of contraception and their insistence that "human sexuality, as we understand this gift from God, is to be genitally expressed only in a monogamous, heterosexual relationship of lasting fidelity in marriage." But they recognized that this standard is not universally achieved: "Because we live in a pluralistic society, we acknowledge that some will not agree with our understanding of human sexuality. We recognize that public educational programs addressed to a wide audience will reflect the fact that some people will not act as they can and should; that they will not refrain from the type of sexual or drug-abuse behavior which can transmit AIDS."

It was in recognition of these realities that they agreed that educational programs, grounded in moral teaching, "could include accurate information about prophylactic devices or other practices proposed by some medical experts as potential means of preventing AIDS."

Quite correctly, they also noted the findings of the scientific community that, apart from a long-standing monogamous relationship, there is no "safe sex." But there can be "safer sex" with the use of appropriate precautions.

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