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Condoms Are `Lesser Evil,' Cardinal Says

April 22, 2006|From Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — Despite the Vatican's opposition to condoms, a senior cardinal said in comments published Friday that they were the "lesser evil" when considering the scourge of AIDS.

"We must do everything to fight AIDS," Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the retired archbishop of Milan, was quoted as saying in Italy's L'Espresso newsweekly. "Certainly, the use of condoms can constitute in certain situations a lesser evil."

There is no specific Vatican policy on using condoms to protect against AIDS, but the Vatican opposes condoms because they are a form of artificial contraception. Pope Benedict XVI repeated the Vatican's position in June, when he told African bishops that abstinence was the only "fail-safe" way to prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Martini, 79, was considered a liberal alternative to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in the papal conclave last year that elected Ratzinger, now Benedict.

Martini is one of the most prominent of the church leaders who have spoken publicly about condoms being preferable to the spread of the disease.

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