The pope cites the example of the use of condoms by prostitutes as "a first step toward moralization", even though condoms are "not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection".
While some have spoken about the limited use of condoms to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS as the lesser of two evils, this is the first time the pope has mentioned the possibility in public.
Benedict made clear the comments were not intended to weaken the Church's fundamental opposition to , a source of grievance to many practicing Catholics.
Even though the Church is not changing its position opposing condoms as a birth control device, the use of condoms as a way to stop the spread of venereal disease was an important way in the United States by which they got into the hands of people who used them to prevent not only the spread of disease, but also an unwanted pregnancy. This was one of the ways in which the birth rate in the US dropped to below replacement during the Depression, prior to the invention of modern chemical contraceptives, and at a time when it was generally illegal to obtain contraceptives.