George Weigel quotes and clarifies the Holy Father's recent and (deliberately?) mangle pronouncement on prophylactics. Read more here.
I'll go a step further than both George Weigel and Janet Smith, whom he cites in his piece, and with due respect for both of them. They write about levels of authority in papal pronouncements and whether the pope is refining his teaching or changing course, and about subjective culpability. They make a number of great points that are entirely aside from the point.
They to miss a very pertinent and obvious fact. I blame this oversight on a near universal obsession with latex. Here is the fact: The Holy Father wasn't taking about contraception.
The Church has never prohibited prophylaxis - measures taken to stop the spread of disease - as such. It has always forbidden artificial contraception - unnatural measures engineered to prevent conception in sexual intercourse. The example that the Holy Father gave of licit (or more licit) condom use was of gay/male prostitutes.
Last I checked, gay prostitutes don't get pregnant, or get many women pregnant for that matter. It is a clear example of a device (the condom) that has a possible contraceptive function (bad) and a possible prophylactic function (OK) being used for the acceptable function in circumstances where the unacceptable function doesn't even come into play.
For that matter, condoms may be used as water balloons, provided of course, they are not also doubling in that use as an innovative method of contraception.
The Holy Father used that example, I believe, precisely because it is so different from what is commonly being done in Africa: distributing condoms so that men may deceive themselves into thinking they care about their wives by subjecting them to a reduced risk of the HIV that they have brought home from their prostitutes and secret homosexual trysts. In which case, the condoms are performing not only a prophylactic function, but also contraceptive one (never permitted), and also using the wife in a more glaringly selfish way.
The Church has changed nothing.