The Catholic Church may be reconsidering its ban on condom use in all circumstances, recognizing the moral predicament faced by HIV-positive spouses, especially in Africa. At the end of April, Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, a senior Vatican official, announced that Pope Benedict XVI had requested a report on the possibility of condom use being acceptable for Catholics in the context of a marriage with one HIV-positive partner. Church teachings currently call for all Catholics to avoid use of contraceptives. Altering Church teachings on this topic would cause extensive ripple effects for Africa’s millions of Catholics and for Catholic aid agencies in Africa.
The announcement came after Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, a widely respected retired church official, said in an interview with an Italian newspaper that using condoms in this specific situation would constitute “a lesser evil.”
In 2005 alone, five million people were newly infected with HIV. More than three million died of AIDS; 570,000 of those were under the age of fifteen. There are over twenty-five million people infected with HIV in Sub-Saharan Africa, which is the region of the world worst affected by this epidemic.