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National Council of French Bishops Give Approval For Using Condoms In Aids Prevention.

 12 FEB 96--- While not changing the Church's official stance against the use of artificial means  of birth control, the Catholic Bishops of France have opened the door for Catholics to use condoms in order to prevent HIV transmission. In a statement issued on February 12 the French bishops declared:

 "Many competent doctors state that a viable condom is today the only means of prevention [of the virus] . In this respect, it is necessary."

 "The condom becomes understandable for cases in which a person who already engages in sexual activity needs to avoid a serious risk, just as we insist that this is not a substitute for an adult sexual education".

 The bishops' statement went on to stress that marriage partners should strive for fidelity  and that all Catholics should continue to avoid sex outside of marriage. The bishops' however felt a responsibility to address the condition of married and unmarried Catholics who feel that it is impossible for them to completely  refrain from sexual relations.

 Individual Catholic Theologians have long argued that using a condom may be permissible in order to prevent disease and death. French Bishop Jacques Gaillot in a statement soundly condemned by the Vatican last year, gave explicit support for using condoms in order to prevent disease. This statement however, is a first by a national council of bishops to officially contradict the policy of Pope John Paul II. Official  Catholic statements from the Vatican, have in the past made no distinction between the use of condoms for birth control and the use of condoms for disease prevention. It follows lengthy discussions with the Bishops' Social  Commission and French medical experts.

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