George Weigel explains why Pope Benedict's remarks on condoms as a least-worst evil in some circumstances is not really a major doctrinal or pastoral shift on the question. I don't think he's wrong technically, and he's right about how some of the press have a hard time distinguishing between comments in an interview and an authoritative teaching from the Magisterium. Nonetheless, what I saw in Benedict's comments was a pastoral judgment on a specific case, where condom use could be a sign of a turn toward responsibility and greater respect for another human being.

This pastoral exception to dogmatic rules is, in fact, what the Catholic church often makes, on the ground, between priest and parishioner, aid worker and patient, parent and child. I wish in many ways that the actual, pragmatic humane work the church does could shine through past the more closed-minded diktats of the Vatican. But that too is as much the press's fault as the church's. When was the last time you read a story of a Catholic priest or religious nursing someone with AIDS or HIV?

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