Pope Benedict XVI says in a new book that the use of condoms can be justified in some cases, such as for male prostitutes seeking to prevent the spread of HIV.
The pontiff made the comments in a book-length interview with a German journalist, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.
The Vatican newspaper ran excerpts of the book on Saturday.
Church teaching has long opposed condoms since they're a form of artificial contraception. The Vatican has been harshly criticised for its position given the AIDS crisis.
Benedict said that for male prostitutes - for whom contraception isn't a central issue - condoms are not a moral solution.
But he said they could be justified "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection".