Pope Benedict XVI has made a dramatic U-Turn on condoms saying they can be used in special circumstances, such as that of male prostitutes seeking to protect themselves or others from HIV infection.

The head of the Catholic church made his startling statement, which flies in the face of the Church’s previous zero tolerance stance on condom use, in a series of interviews for a new book out this week.

In the book Light of the World the Pope cites the example of a male prostitute and suggests that it would be acceptable for him to wear a condom to prevent HIV infection.

When asked if the Church is not, in principle, opposed to the use of condoms he says:

“It of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.”

His comments have sparked widespread debate over whether the Catholic church is softening its stance on contraception however the Catholic Church in England and Wales were quoted in Christian Today saying that the Pope’s comments “cannot be defined as a revolutionary shift”.