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Pope's Comments in New Book Spark Global Reactions

A photo from the Vatican's Osservatore Romano shows Pope Benedict XVI, flanked by German journalist Peter Seewald (L)and by Monsignor Rino Fisichella holding a copy of the book "Light of the World'' at the Vatican, 23 Nov 2010

An unprecedented interview with Pope Benedict on controversial topics ranging from sexual abuse to condoms and homosexuality was released in a book Tuesday.

Excerpts of the pope's comments in the book that seem to reverse the Catholic church's stance on the use of condoms, sparked worldwide reactions days ahead of the book's release.

Light of the World: The Pope, the Church, and the Signs of the Times, based on a six-day interview with Pope Benedict by German journalist Peter Seewald, is due to arrive in book stores Wednesday.

The Pope says in the book that "condoms are not a moral solution," but "in cases such as prostitution they could be justified in the intention of reducing the risk of infection."

The Vatican clarified the Pope's comments Tuesday, saying the use of condoms can be used by both men and women as a means to avoid passing grave risk onto another.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said condoms should be used to show responsibility and avoid spreading HIV to one's partner.

Anti-AIDS activists praised Pope Benedict for saying the use of condoms to stop the spread of the HIV virus can be justified. The statement appears to be a major shift in the Vatican's position on the issue of condom use.

Condoms often are used as artificial birth control, which the Catholic Church staunchly opposes. The pope says he is against the use of condoms to prevent pregnancy.

The pope's response about condoms came in a general question about Africa, where HIV is widespread.

Last year, the pope caused an international uproar on the way to Africa when he said that condoms should not be used because they could worsen the spread of AIDS.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.