I thought the Pope Benedict's remarks about condoms were completely understandable and non-controversial, But they've been sensationalized and misunderstood, so George Weigel has clarified the original remarks and provided the proper context for understanding them. Excerpt:
The first false assumption beneath the latest round of media condomania is that the Church’s settled teaching on sexual morality is a policy or a position that can change, as tax rates can be changed or one’s position on whether India should be a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council can change. To be sure, the theological articulation of the Catholic ethic of sexual love has been refined over centuries; it has come to an interesting point of explication in recent years in John Paul II’s “theology of the body.” But it has not changed and it will not change because it cannot be changed. And it cannot change or be changed because the Catholic ethic of sexual love is an expression of fundamental moral truths that can be known by reason and are illuminated by revelation.
The second false assumption beneath the condom story is that all papal statements of whatever sort are equal, such that an interview is an exercise of the papal teaching magisterium. That wasn’t true of John Paul II’s international bestseller, Crossing the Threshold of Hope, in which the late pope replied to questions posed by Italian journalist Vittorio Messori. It wasn’t true of the first volume of Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth, in which the pope made clear at the outset that he was speaking personally as a theologian and biblical scholar, not as the authoritative teacher of the Church. And it isn’t true of Light of the World. Reporters who insist on parsing every papal utterance as if each were equally authoritative — and who often do so in pursuit of a gotcha moment — do no good service to their readers.
He goes on to list a third ludicrosity pertaining to the very concept of a pope announcing a major clarification in church teaching within the medium of an interview with a journalist.
I remember some idiots I knew in my teenage years discussing AIDS and how if they ever found out they were infected that they would try to pass it along to as many people with it as they could before they succumbed to the illness. This vampiric approach to sexual ethics would appear to be addressed be the Pope's remarks, and so it was the first thing which came to my mind. Obviously full repentance and turning away from an impure lifestyle is the goal, but moving toward responsibility and away from a video game approach to sexual relationships and subsequently to life itself can be seen as progress.
Also—whoever is surprised to discover that the Catholic Church believes that different sins have different degrees of evil has not been paying attention very well. We don't need to bring up Hitler to demonstrate this. Janet Smith's analogy referenced within the article is one of hundreds which may be easily produced by any person in the category of those who believe in the existence of objective morality. This group surely includes some journalists, one hopes.