Brazilian Church authorities have condemned a priest for handing out condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS, in defiance of the Vatican's opposition to artificial contraception.
    Italian-born Fr Valeriano Paitoni, who has worked in Brazil for 22 years, defended the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS in a magazine interview published earlier this week.
    But Archbishop Claudio Hummus condemned the priest's "incompatible" practice of passing out condoms to the poor in Brazil's biggest urban sprawl of Sao Paulo.
    "Considering the clear and reiterated affirmation of the Pope and the Church, which condemns the use of condoms, I declare...that the priest's attitude is incompatible," Hummus said.
    He added that his "letter of condemnation" published on Tuesday in local newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo could be followed by other punitive actions by the church "to correct this regrettable situation."
    Defending his stance, Fr Paitoni said: "If the condom protects life, there is no reason not to view it as a lesser evil...It deals with a greater good."
    The Brazilian Government has criticised the local Church for its continued opposition to the use of condoms. Government officials said that Brazil has one of the region's highest rates of AIDS, with at least 540,000 HIV-infected people, according to a study published last year.
6 July 00

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