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Pope Benedict XVI/Positions on Moral and Political issues

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Pope Benedict XVI
Pope Benedict XVI.
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Positions on moral and political issues

Birth control and HIV/AIDS

In 2005, the Pope listed several ways to combat the spread of HIV, including chastity, fidelity in marriage and anti-poverty efforts; he also rejected the use of condoms.[1] The alleged Vatican investigation of whether there are any cases when married persons may use condoms to protect against the spread of infections surprised many Catholics in the wake of John Paul II's consistent refusal to consider condom use in response to AIDS.[2] However, the Vatican has since stated that no such change in the Church's teaching can occur.[3] Time Magazine also reported in its 30 April 2006 edition that the Vatican's position remains what it always has been with Vatican officials "flatly dismiss[ing] reports that the Vatican is about to release a document that will condone any condom use."[3] In March 2009, the Pope stated: "I would say that this problem of AIDS cannot be overcome merely with money, necessary though it is. If there is no human dimension, if Africans do not help, the problem cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics: on the contrary, they increase it. The solution must have two elements: firstly, bringing out the human dimension of sexuality, that is to say a spiritual and human renewal that would bring with it a new way of behaving towards others, and secondly, true friendship offered above all to those who are suffering, a willingness to make sacrifices and to practise self-denial, to be alongside the suffering."[4]</blockquote>


During his time as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) Benedict XVI made several efforts to tackle the issue of homosexuality within the Church and the wider world. In 1986 the CDF sent a letter to all Bishops entitled: On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons. The letter condemned a liberal interpretation of the earlier CDF document Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics, which had led to a "benign" attitude "to the homosexual condition itself.". On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons clarified that the Church position on Homosexuality was that "although the particular inclination of the homosexual person is not a sin, it is a more or less strong tendency ordered toward an intrinsic moral evil; and thus the inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder."[5] However the document also condemned homophobic attacks and violence stating "It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs."[6]

In 1992 he again approved CDF documents declaring that homosexual "inclination itself must be seen as an objective disorder" and extended this principle to civil law. "Sexual orientation", the document opined, was not equivalent to race or ethnicity, and it declared that it was "not unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account."[7]

On 22 December 2008, the Pope gave an end of year message to the Roman Curia in which he talked about gender and the important distinction between men and women. The pope said that the church viewed the distinction as central to human nature, and "asks that this order, set down by creation, be respected". He characterized gender roles which deviated from his view of what gender roles should be as "a violation of the natural order". The church, he said, "should protect man from the destruction of himself". He said a sort of ecology of man was needed, adding: "The tropical forests do deserve our protection; but man, as a creature, does not deserve any less." He attacked what he described as gender theories which "lead towards the self-emancipation of man from creation and the creator"."[8][9]

LGBT groups such as the Italian Arcigay and German LSVD have announced that they found the Pope's comments homophobic.[10] Aurelio Mancuso, head of Arcigay, saying "A divine programme for men and women is out of line with nature, where the roles are not so clear."[8]

Father Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, claimed the pope had not wished specifically to attack homosexuality, and had not mentioned gays or lesbians in his text. Father Lombardi insisted, however, that there had been an overreaction to the pope's remarks. "He was speaking more generally about gender theories which overlook the fundamental difference in creation between men and women and focus instead on cultural conditioning." Nevertheless, the remarks were interpreted as a call to save mankind from homosexuals and transsexuals.[8]

International relations

Vladimir Putin in the Vatican City 13 March 2007-4

Benedict with then President of Russia Vladimir Putin on 13 March 2007.

Migrants and refugees

In a message released 14 November 2006, during a Vatican press conference for the 2007 annual observance of World Day for Migrants and Refugees, the pope urged the ratification of international conventions and policies that defend all migrants, including refugees, exiles, evacuees, and internally displaced persons. "The church encourages the ratification of the international legal instruments that aim to defend the rights of migrants, refugees and their families," the pope said. "Much is already being done for the integration of the families of immigrants, although much still remains to be done."[11]

Pope Benedict has also promoted various UN events, such as World Refugee Day, on which he offered up special prayers for refugees and called for the international community to do more to secure refugees' human rights. He also called on Catholic communities and organizations to offer them concrete help.[12]


On 28 June 2006, for the first time in more than five years, an official Vatican delegation visited China and met with government officials, signaling a warming between the two states that had previously been locked in conflict. "This is a real gesture by the Vatican and its diplomats," said the Reverend Bernardo Cervellera, director of AsiaNews, a Catholic missionary news service with close links to the Vatican. In sending diplomats to Beijing, the Vatican, under Pope Benedict XVI, is publicly expressing interest in improving relations with China despite the recent conflicts.[13]

In 2007 Benedict sent a letter at Easter to Catholics in China that could have wide-ranging implications for the church's relationship with China's leadership. The letter provides long-requested guidance to Chinese bishops on how to respond to illicitly ordained bishops, as well as how to strengthen ties with the Patriotic Association and the Communist government.[14]


On 13 November 2006, Benedict said the dispute over the North Korea nuclear weapons program should be resolved through negotiations, in his first public comment on the security issue, a news report said. "The Holy See encourages bilateral or multilateral negotiations, convinced that the solution must be sought through peaceful means and in respect for agreements taken by all sides to obtain the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula." Benedict was talking to the new Japanese ambassador to the Vatican.[15]


In a 2004 Le Figaro interview, Ratzinger said that Turkey, which is demographically Muslim but governmentally secular by virtue of its state constitution (see Secularism in Turkey), should seek its future in an association of Muslim nations rather than the European Union, which Ratzinger has stated has Christian roots. He said Turkey had always been "in permanent contrast to Europe" and that linking it to Europe would be a mistake.[16]

Later visiting the country to "reiterate the solidarity between the cultures," it was reported that he made a counter-statement backing Turkey's bid to join the EU. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, after meeting the pope upon his arrival in Ankara, the pope's first visit to a majority Muslim country, said that the pope told him that while the Vatican seeks to stay out of politics it desires Turkey's membership in the EU.[17][18] However, the Common Declaration of Pope Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople implied that support for Turkey's membership in the European Union would be contingent on the establishment of religious freedom in Turkey:[19] "In every step towards unification, minorities must be protected, with their cultural traditions and the distinguishing features of their religion."[20] The Declaration also reiterates Pope Benedict XVI's call for Europe to preserve its Christian roots.


In May 2009 he visited Israel, where David D'Or and Dudu Fisher sang for him upon his arrival.[21][22]

Global economy

In 2009 the Pope intervened in global economic and political affairs with his third encyclical , Charity in Truth, which can be viewed on the Vatican's web site.[23] The document sets out the Pope's position on the case for worldwide redistribution of wealth in considerable detail and goes on to discuss the environment, migration, terrorism, sexual tourism, bioethics, energy and population issues. The Financial Times has reported that the Pope's advocacy for a fairer redistribution of wealth has helped set the agenda for the 2009 July G8 summit.[24] [25]

Nuclear energy

Pope Benedict XVI has called for nuclear disarmament. At the same time, he has supported the peaceful use of nuclear energy as a tool for the development and fighting against poverty. In his message for the 50th anniversary of the founding of the International Atomic Energy Agency, he confirmed: "The Holy See, fully approving of the IAEA's goal, has been a member from the organization's foundation and continues to support its activity.".[26]

  1. BBC News. (2005) Pope rejects condoms for Africa. Retrieved from:
  2. Protection against AIDS
  3. 3.0 3.1 Time article "Condom Fight: The Vatican Strikes Back"
  5. On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:
  6. OPCHP
  7. Saletan, William (29 November 2005). "Gland Inquisitor: Pope Benedict's antigay tendencies.". Slate. Retrieved 30 December 2008. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 Kington, Tom; Riazat Butt (24 December 2008). "Pope angers campaigners with speech seen as attack on homosexuality". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 December 2008. 
  9. Donadio, Rachel (22 December 2008). "The Vatican: In Speech, Pope Calls Homosexual Behavior a Violation". The New York Times. Retrieved 28 December 2008. 
  10. LSVD:Warum hetzt der Papst immer wieder gegen Homosexuelle?
  11. Pope Benedict XVI message for 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees
  12. Pope offers prayers to refugees for United Nations' World Refugee Day
  13. Beijing receives Vatican delegation, signaling a thaw
  14. Letter of Pope Benedict XVI to Chinese Catholics, 27 May 2007
  15. Pope urges talks to make Korean Peninsula nuclear free
  16. Jim Bencivenga, "Navigating a clash of civilizations: Examining the new pope's old comments on Turkey's entry into the European Union," Christian Science Monitor. 22 April 2005.
  17. Pope Benedict Backs Turkey's European Union Bid
  18. Pope calls for religious exchange
  19. "Pope did not change stance on Turkey and EU", Spero News, 30 November 2006
  20. "Common Declaration by His Holiness Benedict XVI and Patriarch Bartholomew I", 30 November 2006
  21. Cashman, Greer Fay (May 12, 2009). "Grapevine: The eyes have it". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  22. "David D'Or and Dudu Fisher Sing for the Pope". Consulate General of Israel in New York. 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-14. 
  23. His holy father , Pope Benedict XVI (2009-07-07). "CARITAS IN VERITATE "Charity in Truth"". The Vatican. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  24. Guy Dinmore in Rome (2009-07-07). "Pope condemns capitalism’s ‘failures’". The Financial Times. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  25. Ruth Gledhill, (2009-07-07). "Pope Benedict XVI calls for new economic system based on love in G8 message". The Times. Retrieved 2009-07-07. 
  26. "Pope calls for disarmament, backs nuke energy". Catholic News. 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2007-08-01. 

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