The Pope’s comments to German reporter Peter Seewald about the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV are being widely discussed, including by me and the American Conservative’s Michael Brendan Dougherty on Bloggingheads. There was a dispute, initially, about whether he intended his comments to apply only to male prostitutes; the Vatican has since clarified his remarks to apply “if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual.”
This morning Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, issued a statement praising the Vatican and criticizing conservatives who sought to limit the Pope’s remarks. The clarification, O’Brien said, demonstrated how far-reaching the Pope’s intention was. He added:
Some people have criticized the glacial pace at which the Catholic hierarchy moves. Certainly, this acceptance of condom use is more than two decades too late. But it has now happened, and organizations that have been hesitant to provide condoms to those living with HIV and AIDS must move immediately to put this new teaching into action.
The first step on any journey is always the hardest, but it is also the most important one because without it change is impossible.
Dougherty and I discussed this issue at some length (taping before this official Vatican clarification), as well as the recent USCCB elections, and had a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion of “American exceptionalism,” the question of whether President Obama has a “religion dilemma,” and the feasibility of finding “common ground” on abortion. You can watch the whole thing here: