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Europe greets Pope Benedict's condom remarks as 'evolution, not revolution'

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“It is an evolution, not a revolution,” argues Xavier Lacroix, a theologian at Catholic University in Lyon, France. "I observe a change of vocabulary … using words that belong to a positive realm, not only the typical ‘lesser evil.’ "

Michel Sidibé, director of the United Nations's AIDS program, described it as a “significant and positive step forward.”

No core change?

Yet some grassroots Catholic reform groups say papal comment allowing a man to use a condom in certain odd cases does not address any core change.

“If the pope says you can now wear pink shoes instead of red shoes, the public will be ecstatic,” says Sigrid Grabmeier, spokeswoman for “We are Church,” which was formed in Germany and Austria in protest of severe priestly child abuse cases and which advocates equality for women in the church. “But this step, or idea of a step, is not a change in attitude or in the mind of the church.”

The pope’s comment comes in a book-length series of interviews by a sympathetic German journalist who did two other books with Benedict when he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. Before becoming pope, he was responsible for church discipline as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. “Light of the World,” the book’s title, attempts to humanize Benedict, a pontiff known both for brilliance and aloofness following a year of scandal that threatens his legacy.

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