The new pope and medical ethics

BMJ 2005; 330 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.330.7503.1281 (Published 02 June 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;330:1281
  1. Daniele Maria Scalise, freelance journalist,
  2. Giulio Bognolo, assistant editor (gbognolo@bmj.com)
  1. Via S S Quattro, 31-00184 Rome, Italy
  2. BMJ

    Can Benedict XVI strike a balance between Catholic doctrines and health?

    Given that more than 37 million people world-wide are living with HIV,1 the late pope's opposition to the use of condoms attracted much criticism. Indeed, some critics blamed John Paul II directly for the loss of millions of lives from AIDS in Africa, where the Catholic church is flourishing; 2.3 million died in 2004 in sub-Saharan Africa alone. The new pope, Benedict XVI (formerly Joseph Ratzinger), also comes from the conservative wing of his church and is therefore very likely to endorse the encyclical of Pope Paul VI that bars Catholics from using any kind of artificial contraceptive.2 But what do we really know of his views on condom use and other medical and ethical issues?

    As a cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger led the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an organisation descended from …

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