Making a marked departure from the Vatican's longstanding opposition to the use of condoms, Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels admitted that condoms had their share of virtue.
"When an HIV-positive person says to his partner I want to have sexual relations, he must use a condom," the cardinal said on a religious talk show.
He said that sex with a person infected with HIV should be avoided.
"But if it should took place, the person must use a condom in order not to disobey the commandment condemning murder, in addition to breaking the commandment which forbids adultery," the Cardinal said.
"When an HIV-positive person says to his partner I want to have sexual relations, he must use a condom"
Cardinal Godfried Danneels
Danneels' comments go against the official doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, which condemns artificial forms of birth control including condoms.
"Protecting oneself against sickness or death is an act of prevention," Danneels said. "Morally, it cannot be judged on the same level as when a condom is used to reduce the number of births."
The 70-year-old cardinal is the archbishop of Brussels and had been a vocal supporter of inducting women to the Roman Catholic clergy.