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Spanish Catholic Church first backs condom use, then backs off

Spanish Catholic Church first backs condom use, then backs off

In a move that drew swift condemnation by the Vatican, the spokesman for the Catholic Church in Spain this week said the church supports the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. "Condoms have a place in the global prevention of AIDS," Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, spokesman for the Spanish Bishops Conference, told reporters after a meeting Tuesday with Spanish health minister Elena Salgado to discuss ways of fighting the disease. The Catholic Church has repeatedly rebuffed campaigns for it to endorse the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS. The Vatican says that condoms, because they are a form of artificial birth control, cannot be used to help prevent the spread of HIV. Martinez Camino said the Spanish church's stance was backed by the scientific world. He cited a recent study by experts in the medical magazine The Lancet that supports the "ABC" approach: abstinence, being faithful to partners, and using condoms to prevent the spread of HIV. But just hours after Camino's statements were made public, the Vatican contradicted his call for condom use, reiterating that all forms of birth control, including condoms, are prohibited by church doctrine. "The use of prophylactics is unacceptable even as a solution to the problem of AIDS, because the objective is the fight against fornication," said cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan, the Vatican's health secretary, in an interview published by the Spanish daily La Repubblica.The Spanish Bishops Conference later retracted its previous position, saying, "It is impossible to advise the use of contact." The Spanish Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Transsexuals and Bisexuals, which had welcomed the apparent change in policy--its leader Beatriz Gimeno hailed it as an "attack of lucidity"--said the church had reverted to its old position after coming under pressure from conservatives in Spanish society.

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