WHO chief welcomes pope's condom comments
The head of the World Health Organisation on Monday welcomed comments by Pope Benedict XVI in which he appeared to signal a new stance on the use of condoms to prevent HIV.
"I welcome this position and for the first time, the use of condoms in special circumstances was endorsed by the Vatican and this is good news and a good beginning for us," Margaret Chan said in Berlin.
In a book of interviews due out on Tuesday, Benedict says that condom use is acceptable "in certain cases", notably to reduce the risk of HIV infection, apparently softening his once hardline view.
In comments published in his native German, the 83-year-old Benedict is asked whether "the Catholic Church is not fundamentally against the use of condoms."
"It of course does not see it as a real and moral solution," the pope replies.
"In certain cases, where the intention is to reduce the risk of infection, it can nevertheless be a first step on the way to another, more humane sexuality," said the head of the world's 1.1 billion Catholics.
The United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, UNAIDS, has already welcomed Benedict's remarks as "a significant and positive step forward taken by the Vatican."
Until now, the Vatican had prohibited the use of any form of contraception -- other than abstinence -- even as a guard against sexually transmitted disease.
© 2010 AFP