The president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops on Saturday reaffirmed church doctrine on contraceptives after the bishops' recent statement on AIDS provoked a flood of telephone calls.
The bishops on Thursday said they would tolerate educational programs acknowledging that medical experts advocate the use of condoms as a means of reducing the risk of acquiring or transmitting the AIDS virus.
"We are not promoting the use of prophylactics, but merely providing information that is part of the factual picture," the bishops said in a 30-page statement developed by a task force of bishops.
Archbishop John L. May of St. Louis, president of the conference, said Saturday that the statement had been misunderstood. "I want to stress that our statement does not call for any changes in the church's constant teaching concerning proper moral behavior," he said.
Church teaching considers condoms to be an unacceptable means of birth control.
The statement acknowledges that public health officials are recommending the use of condoms and that "this fact will be part of comprehensive factual presentations on the disease," May said.
"Such presentations, however, should reflect the fact that 'safe sex' practices are at best only partially effective and that they do not take into account either the real values that are at stake or the fundamental good of the human person," May said.
The statement "urges abstinence outside of marriage and fidelity within marriage as well as the avoidance of intravenous drug abuse as the only morally correct and medically sure ways to prevent the spread of AIDS," May said.