Gay sex workers can use condoms, women can't

A new book to be published by Pope Benedict contains some surprising news. Condoms, the German pontiff says, can (reluctantly) be used in the battle against HIV. But only in certain cases, not all.

"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," the Pope said.

The Pope cited male prostitution as an example of when people could use condoms.

This, if you're not aware, is a dramatic turnaround in Benedict's thinking. Just last year the same Pope said: "You can't resolve it (HIV) with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem."

Last year, remember, Benedict caused an international uproar when he told the press that condoms should not be used because they could worsen the spread of AIDS in Africa and elsewhere.

Of course the world's medical community have disagreed with him on just that point for almost three decades, to no avail. So how to explain his remarkable change of heart?

Apparently, 28 years of irrefutable reports from global AIDS crisis later, the Pope has finally gotten the message on safe sex and his response was immediate.

Immediate, that is, if you're the head of the Vatican and your eyes are fixed on the eternal rather than the here and now. For almost an entire generation of gay men the decision comes entirely too late.

But how, for instance, does this square with the fact that in the Church's sex is only for procreation?

The answer is it doesn't. One half the world's population were left out of his latest pronouncement: women. It's seem that a condoms ability to protect against disease become a problem if it also prevents pregnancy.

Gay sex workers are in the clear, but women will have to take a number. At the rate the Church is traveling now, expect a call back some time around 2040.

Meanwhile, last week the National Coalition of American Nuns denounced the continuing silence of America's bishops, who have refusal to even mention the shocking surge of suicides among young gay men, because - they realize - their strong opposition to marriage equality has been revealed as a major factor in prolonging anti-gay sentiment.

So instead of clarifying his views the Pope has instead contributed to the ever-deepening abstractions and moral confusion that surround Church teachings on homosexuality, again singling out gays as a special class of sinner, which gives succor to all the bullies and increases the suffering of the Church's victims.

The Church seems to have decided that the best way to address the international collapse of its moral authority is to continue to police human sexuality, as though it were the focus of Jesus' teachings and his primary interest, when perhaps a little kindness and compassion might have sufficed.

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