"We must do everything to fight AIDS," said Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the retired archbishop of Milan, in Italy's L'Espresso newsweekly. "Certainly, the use of condoms can constitute in certain situations a lesser evil."The Church knows that AIDS, if allowed to continue unabated, is going to wipe out the population of Africa. Africa is one of the few places where the Church still has the potential to save a lot of souls. Alas, AIDS is probably killing Africans faster than the missionaries can convert them. Once again, that might be a cynic's viewpoint. I'd prefer to believe the Church is simply looking out for all of humankind, albeit addressing the AIDS crisis a little late.
Allowing condom use is a pragmatic solution, but the cardinal's comments must be kept in context. This is not a statement in favor of birth control, as the TV news tried to spin it last night. Lest we get the impression that we can wear condoms and fornicate with wanton abandon, the cardinal carefully pointed out that he was speaking specifically of married couples where one spouse is HIV-positive. Even then, one cardinal, no matter how senior, does not necessarily speak for the whole Church. So the folks at Trojan had better hold off on affixing those "Catholic approved" labels.