I am rather skeptical about this Reuters story (besides just the fact that it comes from Reuters)
MADRID, Jan 18 (Reuters) – Spain’s Catholic Church acknowledged on Tuesday that condoms had a place in a broader strategy to halt the spread of AIDS, based primarily on sexual abstinence and fidelity. In an apparent shift from traditional Church teachings, the spokesman for Spain’s Bishops’ Conference, Juan Antonio Martinez Camino, said there was scientific evidence that condoms could combat the propagation of the disease.
After meeting Health Minister Elena Salgado, the cleric said a recent study in medical journal the Lancet had supported an integrated approach to tackling AIDS, including the use of condoms and the practice of sexual restraint.
"The Church is very worried and interested by this problem, and its position is backed by scientific proposals such as the one published in the prestigious magazine the Lancet," Martinez Camino said.
"The time has come, the Lancet magazine says, for a joint strategy in the prevention of such a tragic pandemic as AIDS, and contraception has a place in a global approach to tackling AIDS," he said. [Source]
They provide no quotations around the statement that the spokesman for Spain’s bishop conference endorsed the use of condoms. They move from his statement about an article in the Lancet to a specific quote in the magazine making it appear that he was agreeing with the specific point made. So count me doubtful that this is the actual position of Spain’s bishop conference.
Update: A reader named Robert posted in my comments that my hunch looks correct and that a Spanish language news release says that the spokesman’s remarks were distorted and has since clarified them. Robert says "In other words, this is a non-story." The only story here is in the reporting of a non-story and how once again the press has fabricated news out of thin-air.
Update: Santificarnos takes a more in depth look at this story via a Spanish news site and further debunks the story.
After a bit more reading, it seems he was definitely misquoted – helped along by a sloppy comment.
It appears that Father Juan Antonio Martínez Camino was attempting to explain that it was nice that an international program accepted the Church´s stance with respect to Abstinence. However, by mentioning the Lancet ABC program, the press miscontrued that to mean the Church was supporting the use of condoms. In other words, they ignored the parts "A" and "B" of the program, and misconstued the Father´s words that he was approving of the "C" part of the program.
The ABC program is Abstinence, Be faithful, Condoms.
Madrid, Jan. 19, 2005 (CNA) – Despite media reports around the world that the bishops of Spain have thrown their support behind condoms as a means of preventing AIDS, the statements by the General Secretary of the Bishops Conference of Spain, which are the source of the reports, reiterate the Catholic position that abstinence and fidelity must be promoted in order to stop AIDS.
Father Juan Martinez Camino, spokesman for the bishops, held a meeting with the Health Minister, Elena Salgado, to discuss the issue of AIDS prevention. Speaking to the press, Father Martinez stated that the Church is “very concerned about and interested in” this “grave problem,” and he maintained that the position of the bishops, made know on repeated occasions, in favor of abstinence and fidelity, “is also backed up by scientific evidence.”
In this way Father Martinez referred to the so-called “ABC Strategy,” which was the subject of the medical magazine “The Lancet” last November, which revealed that 150 experts from 36 countries for the first time acknowledged that the promotion of abstinence and fidelity should be taken into account in AIDS prevention campaigns.
The ABC Strategy proposes “a common foundation” for the prevention of AIDS, with the letters standing for abstinence, be faithful, and condoms. Father Martinez was reported to have told the Health Minister that the Church is against the systematic and unilateral generalization of the condom as the only method of prevention. According to Father Martinez, the meeting was characterized by a “very extensive and cordial” dialogue that only concerned the current medical and social status of the disease.
Update: And now word from Spain’s Catholic Bishops Conference.
The Roman Catholic Church in Spain moved to quench any notion of a sea-change in its attitude to the use of contraceptives, saying remarks by one of its top people had been misunderstood and that doctrine remained as before.
While Camino’s comments were seen in Spain as a sea-change in how the Roman Catholic Church views use of condoms, the Vatican — where Church doctrine is set out — quietly but firmly reiterated the official line, and Catholic leaders elsewhere followed suit.
Clarifying any misunderstandings, the Spanish bishop’s conference said the statement had not changed Church doctrine.
"The only conduct to advise is the responsible exercise of sexuality, in line with the moral norm," said the statement, reiterating Vatican doctrine that sexual abstinence and fidelity were the best weapons against HIV/AIDS.
"It is not possible to advise people to use condoms if it goes against their private morality," it said.
It insisted Camino had merely given a "brief response" to journalists’ questions on a Spanish government programme for AIDS prevention that foresaw use of condoms.
"The statement must be understood within the meaning of Catholic doctrine which says use of condoms implies immoral sexual conduct," said the statement following a meeting of the hierarchy.
"The Church cooperates efficiently and rationally in the prevention of AIDS by advising the education of people on married love which is faithful and open to life, with the aim of avoiding inappropriate, promiscuous relations which give rise to perceived ‘risk situations.’"