Progressio today welcomes comments made by the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales, who said that he understands why condoms are seen as an “attractive” option when considered in the context of developing world poverty.

In an interview with BBC WM, the Most Rev Vincent Nichols said: “I think when it comes to Third World poverty, and the great pressure under which many women are put by men, I can see the arguments why, in the short-term, (the) means that give women protection are attractive.”

Although Rev Nichols indicated he did not believe the Church has a role in promoting the use of condoms, he said it should be involved in tackling the root causes of poverty, and stressed that the Church would continue to highlight the message that:

“If we solve the poverty then consistently we know that the birth rate comes down, if we provide people with security then consistently birth rates will come down.”

Progressio, which has been working with some of the world’s poorest communities in parts of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America for over 40 years, welcomed his comments as “showing a great understanding of and empathy with those, especially women, who are facing difficult circumstances caused by poverty and powerlessness.”

Progressio’s Executive Director, Christine Allen said: “In some countries where we work the church hierarchy' s inability to understand the daily reality of poverty in people's lives is a major obstacle to our partners' efforts to help women to gain control over their lives and achieve their social, economic and political rights.

She adds: “While we understand why the Archbishop says it is not the Church's role to champion the use of condoms, we hope his comments will encourage other leaders to similarly engage with and understand the multiple causes and responses to poverty.”