Expect pigs to fly, chairs to talk, or Sarah Palin to say something intelligent — before you’d expect the pope to endorse the use of condoms.

But, believe it or not, that’s what just happened. In an interview for a German journalist, the German Pope Benedict XVI said that it was OK for male prostitutes to use condoms in order to help contain the spread of AIDS.

This is, of course, the same pope who just last year condemned the use of all condoms — and, in fact, insisted they only helped spread the disease, and did nothing to stop it.

Now, in a dramatic reversal, the pope says the Catholic Church accepts the limited use of condoms by male prostitutes as a way for them to take responsibility for their own actions.

But why stop there? If male prostitutes should take responsibility for their sexual activity, shouldn’t all gay men? Indeed, shouldn’t all men and women? And — if it’s considered “responsible” to use a condom to help prevent the spread of AIDS — why isn’t it also “responsible” to use a condom to help prevent an unwanted pregnancy?

Indeed, by focusing on male prostitutes, the pope seems to be saying he doesn’t care about the spread of the disease to unsuspecting women. But, then again, women have long been treated as second-class citizens by the male-centric Catholic Church.

Approving the limited use of condoms may be a good first step for Pope Benedict XVI, but he still has a long way to go.

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