Vatican City A senior cardinal who was considered for the papacy last year said in comments published Friday that the Roman Catholic Church should soften its ban on condoms because of the scourge of AIDS.
"We must do everything to fight AIDS," said Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the retired archbishop of Milan, in Italy's L'Espresso newsweekly. "Certainly, the use of condoms can constitute in certain situations a lesser evil."
While there is no specific, authoritative Vatican policy on using condoms to protect against AIDS, the Vatican opposes condoms because they are a form of what the church calls artificial contraception. Pope Benedict XVI repeated the Vatican's position last June, when he told African bishops abstinence was the only "fail-safe" way to prevent the spread of HIV.
New prime minister prepares for office
Italy's incoming prime minister, still waiting for his opponent to concede, took a call of congratulations Friday from President Bush - more than 10 days after the disputed election that brought his squabbling coalition to power.
Romano Prodi, a center-left former premier, was preparing for his return to power while trying to hold together the potentially unwieldy coalition. His defeated opponent, Silvio Berlusconi, has refused to explicitly concede, but Friday alluded to a future Prodi government - if only to say it was doomed - and referred to his own "resignation."
"I think theirs will be a parenthesis, an interruption in our path toward a future of development, progress and freedom," the conservative leader told supporters in the northeastern city of Trieste.
Italy's top court this week certified Prodi's razor-thin victory in the lower house of parliament.