- The Washington Times - Friday, April 21, 2006

ROME — The cardinal who was defeated in the race for the papacy last year has challenged the Vatican by issuing a powerful statement of liberal views, backing the use of condoms and accepting abortion in “extreme cases.”

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini’s comments will be seen as a reminder to the conservative Pope Benedict XVI that the liberal wing of the church is not afraid to raise its voice.

Cardinal Martini, the 79-year-old former archbishop of Milan, said that in the fight against AIDS “the use of condoms could be construed, in certain situations, as a lesser evil.” He also said spouses who had contracted AIDS should use protection to save their partners from being infected.

In contrast, the pope has said: “The church advises chastity as the only safe way to fight AIDS.” He has also said that the use of condoms is “technically possible, but morally inadmissible.”

The cardinal’s comments, part of a debate with an Italian scientist, were published in the magazine L’Espresso a year after the election of Benedict.

Cardinal Martini, who now lives in Jerusalem and has no formal position in the Vatican, covered subjects including abortion, stem-cell research, adoption and artificial insemination.

On almost every topic except for stem-cell research and euthanasia he tested the limits of the Vatican’s official teachings.

He said that while abortion was regrettable, “any person must be respected who, hopefully after much reflection and suffering, in extreme cases follows their conscience, even if they decide on something that I do not approve of.”

He said the legalization of abortion was a “positive” development in the sense that it had “contributed to reducing and eliminating illegal abortions.”

A modern state should not have a “license to kill,” but it was hard for the state not to intervene to prevent “a brutal, arbitrary situation” from developing, he said.

While Benedict used his Easter message to emphasize the importance of family, Cardinal Martini said that single parents should also be allowed to adopt children. “In the absence of a family composed of a man and a woman who have wisdom and maturity, then there are other people, even single people, who can in fact provide the same essential needs,” he said.

He even went as far as to say that extra embryos which are created in the process of artificial insemination should be kept on ice and used if the first implantation is not successful.

A spokesman for the Vatican declined to comment on the cardinal’s remarks.

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