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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 January, 2005, 22:29 GMT
Spain bishops deny condom rethink
The bishop backed a joint strategy of abstinence, fidelity and condoms
The Roman Catholic Church in Spain has denied it condones the use of condoms as a way of combating the Aids virus.

Reverend Juan Antonio Martinez Camino caused controversy on Tuesday when he said condoms "had a place" in fighting the Aids pandemic.

But on Wednesday the Church insisted its position had not changed, and the use of contraception was "immoral".

It reiterated the Vatican doctrine that sexual abstinence and fidelity were the best protection against Aids.

Bishop Juan Antonio Martinez Camino - the secretary general of the Catholic Bishops Conference - sent shockwaves through the Catholic Church in Europe when he said the use of condoms and practising sexual restraint appeared to be the best strategy to tackle the disease.

"The Church is very worried and interested by this problem, and its position is backed by scientific proposals such as the one published in the prestigious magazine the Lancet," Reverend Camino said.

"The time has come, the Lancet magazine says, for a joint strategy in the prevention of such a tragic pandemic as Aids, and contraception has a place in a global approach to tackling Aids."

His statement prompted surprise among bishops' conferences in other European countries - and received a positive reception among some more liberal Catholic organisations.

'Married love'

But on Wednesday the Church moved to quell the controversy.

"The only conduct to advise is the responsible exercise of sexuality, in line with the moral norm," said the bishops' statement.

"The statement must be understood within the meaning of Catholic doctrine which says use of condoms implies immoral sexual conduct.

"The Church co-operates efficiently and rationally in the prevention of Aids by advising the education of people on married love which is faithful and open to life, with the aim of avoiding inappropriate, promiscuous relations which give rise to perceived 'risk situations'."

Earlier, the Vatican quietly also reiterated the official line.

Last year the European Union criticised a Vatican paper that claimed that HIV - the virus which leads to Aids - can pass through latex condoms and cause infection.

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