The controversy is being further fueled by remarks made by the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi. He told the press conference that while the Pope had used the example of a male prostitute using condoms, the point could apply to men, women, and even transsexuals engaged in prostitution.
“I asked the pope personally,” he said, adding: “Whether a man or a woman or a transsexual does this, we’re at the same point,” Fr. Lombardi said. “The point is the first step toward responsibility, to avoid posing a grave risk to another person.”
Seewald, too, emphasized the point in his remarks. He noted the controversies over different translations of the Pope’s words and said: “The pope indicates that, in addition to the case he cited, there may be other cases in which one may imagine that use of a condom could be a step toward responsible sexuality in this area, and to prevent further infection.”
Others at the conference tried to steer the conversation away from the controversy.
“We have a Pope who does not evade any question, who wishes to clarify everything using a language that is simple but not for that reason less profound, and who benevolently accepts the provocations inherent in so many questions,” Archbishop Fisichella said.
He and veteran Vatican correspondent, Luigi Accattoli, focused attention on the deep philosophical and political themes addressed in the new book. The book, they said, is really a conversation about the relationship of the Church with a modern world that has grown increasingly secular and hostile to religion.
Archbishop Fisichella explained how Seewald had asked the Pope "about the great questions facing modern theology, the various political events that have always marked relations between States and, finally, the themes that often occupy a large part of public debate.
"In these pages Benedict XVI often returns to the relationship between modernity and Christianity, which cannot and must not be seen as parallels,” the archbishop said. “Rather, the relationship must be lived by correctly uniting faith and reason, individual rights and social responsibility; in a word, by 'putting God first'. … This is the task the Pope sets for his own pontificate and we cannot, in all honesty, deny how difficult it seems to be."
Accattoli emphasized how personally the Pope speaks in this book and suggested journalists read it as “a guided visit to the papal workshop of Benedict XVI and to the world of Joseph Ratzinger.”