Pope Promotes Punctured Prophylactics
The Vatican is about to launch its own range of condoms - with the blessing of the Pope. But the aim is to prevent disease, not babies, said a spokesman for the Holy See.
Every condom will come complete with a hole in the tip so that the faithful can protect themselves against infection while obeying the church's ruling on contraception. It's believed that the Pope is hoping to change the Roman Catholic church's image when it comes to AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
"We still say that AIDS is divine retribution for those who have been led astray by the devil," said one Cardinal who requested to remain anonymous. "But our previous strategy of spreading lies about condoms has backfired. People are dying and it makes it look as though we're killing them. Which we sort of are."
There will be two products in the new range - the extra-sensitive Rapture and the heavy duty Holy Shroud.
The move is a sign that the church is trying to repair its reputation and show that it still has relevance, claimed the Cardinal.
"We can't stop people having sex," he said. "Hell, we can't even stop our own priests doing it. But we want them to be safe, even if they are going to go to hell eventually."
He refused to comment on criticisms that the hole will mean that the condoms remain relatively useless in the fight against AIDS and other diseases.
The condoms will be available only in selected churches and the first batches will be distributed directly to priests for their own use. When production ramps up, they will be made available to the public, accompanied by a marketing campaign with the slogan:
"They're holy because they're hole-y"
Early prototypes had holes created by nuns who were blindfolded to protect their virtue, the Cardinal explained. "But we just had too many accidents," he added. "And some of the condoms were slipping through unpunctured. So the holes are now made by a carefully selected group of priests who, for one reason or another, can't return to their parishes for the time being."
One Vatican-watching pundit, William H Carpenter of the Carpenter Ecumenical Foundation, says this puts a new light on the recent spat between the Vatican and the British Government over a leaked memo. The UK Foreign Office email made a number of suggestions for the Pope's planned visit to Britain, including some ideas that senior Roman Catholics apparently found insulting and disrespectful. The Vatican expressed displeasure at the idea that the Pope might open an abortion clinic or launch a new range of condoms.
"It now seems that the anger over the condom idea expressed in the memo had nothing to do with theology or ethics," says Carpenter. "According to my sources, the Vatican was more worried about protecting its brand and the possibility that marketing plans had been leaked."