Catholic AIDS Workers Debate Pope’s Condom Remarks

Time has just published my piece on the Pope’s comments about AIDS and condoms.

Almost a week after news emerged that the Pope had told an interviewer that there are some situations when using a condom could be morally justified in the fight against AIDS, people on both sides of the issue are still debating what the implications of his comment will be. “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be … a first assumption of responsibility on the way toward discovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants,” Benedict XVI was quoted as telling the German journalist Peter Seewald during a series of interviews in July.

The Pope could not have been unaware of the impact his words would have. In March 2009, he ignited a firestorm of controversy when, on a trip to Africa, he told journalists that the distribution of condoms increased the problem of AIDS. Intended or not, the Pope’s recent statement has reignited a hotly contested debate in the Vatican and sent ripples through the Catholic community, particularly in areas hard-hit by the AIDS virus. “It’s a big deal,” says Günther Simmermacher, editor of the Southern Cross, a weekly Catholic newspaper in South Africa. “If the Pope is talking about it, then the debate has been opened.”

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Berlusconi: Is His Latest Scandal the Last Straw?

My piece on Berlusconi’s latest scandal has just been published by Time.

One sign of the seriousness of the scandal that threatens to topple the Italian government is the fact that for the first few days after it broke on Oct. 27, the country’s newspapers couldn’t print an unedited picture of the woman who sparked it.

For nearly a week, Italy’s broadsheets ran photos of Karima El Mahroug, a Moroccan belly dancer who allegedly told prosecutors she had been paid to attend “bunga-bunga” sex parties thrown by Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. The pictures concealed little; they showed her dressed, variously, in thigh-high boots, a red-feather bra, and a plunge-cut tank top. But they did hide one part of the anatomy: her eyes. Until Nov. 1, when El Mahroug turned 18, the press carefully pixilated part of her face in an attempt to protect the privacy of a minor.

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