18-May-2006 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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May. 18 (CWNews.com) - Despite many published reports to the contrary, the Vatican is not preparing a document on the use of condoms to curb AIDS infection, according to a consultor to the Holy See.

Msgr. Michel Schooyans, a Belgian theologian and consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Family, told the I Media news agency that been discussed a statement on the topic, but that statement "never saw the light of day, and I don't think that it will ever appear."

Speculation that a Vatican statement might soon appear is the result of "media intoxication," the Belgian cleric said, in an unusually blunt series of comments on the public controversy.

In an April interview with L'Espresso, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former Archbishop of Milan, said that condom use could be a "lesser evil" if it helped someone infected with HIV avoid passing the virus on to his spouse. Cardinal Martini's statement revived a public debate on the topic, and Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care, heightened public interest when he told La Repubblica that the Vatican was making a study of the question, at the request of Pope Benedict XVI.

But Msgr. Schooyans, a retired professor at the University of Louvain, disputed the accuracy of the report attributed to Cardinal Barragan. "I know, from a very good source, that no document of that sort was requested," he said. The Belgian theologian added that several years ago the Pontifical Council for Health Care had considered a statement on condoms and AIDS, but that project had been shelved.

If the Vatican did make a statement on the morality of condom use, Msgr. Schooyans continued, the statement would undoubtedly come from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, since the topic involves issues of moral teaching. The Pontifical Council for Health Care, he observed, "is pastoral and not doctrinal," and thus would not have responsibility for the question. If the Pope asked for preparation of a statement on condom use, Msgr. Schooyans said, it is "absolutely certain" that he would direct the request toward the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). And since several different prelates have raised public questions about the issue, it would be "quite normal" for the CDF to study the topic.

The CDF, the monsignor explained, would be likely to respond to the statement by Cardinal Martini (and others, including Cardinal Godfriend Daneels of Brussels) by asking theologians and moralists to reflect on the issue of condom use, with an eye to clarifying the Church's teaching.

However, he said, the CDF works quietly, carefully, and deliberately; no quick result should be anticipated.

Thus Msgr. Schooyans concluded that "there is, to my knowledge, no reason to believe that a particular study, involving the preparation of a document on the subject, is in preparation."

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