They start bad but they improve with time. I cannot say I like Pope Benedikt XVI yet, but I have the feeling that he is getting better as he ages, pretty much like Pope Johannes Paul II, Karol Woytila. Woytila started his adventure as a Pope by playing the head of state, flying overseas to shake hands with dictators, spelling pages over pages of reactionary speeches -and then he improved. He become, so to speak, more human: a strange feat for a man whose mandate was to impersonate the link between Man and God.

I sincerely hope that Pope Benedikt XVI will show the same trend. At first he did not enthuse me, sorry for the understatement... One example will suffice: in 1990 (so even before becoming Pope) Ratzinger said that the process of the Church against Galileo was reasonable and just. I will omit to discuss this incident, which is relevant since Ratzinger did not modify his thought after becoming Pope. But now, reading his last text (anticipations from a book, "Light from the world") allows to see hints of a softening of the reactionary positions he has had in the past. A glaring example (the only one I have, but I guess there will be others): he says that condoms are not immoral tout court: in some cases it might not be against christian morality to use them.

This might sound like the discovery of hot water, but excuse me if I insist: for the Pope, to say that a piece of rubber can be used in a sexual intercourse (I assume he is not saying one should use them as party balloons) to stop sperm from reaching its goal, is revolutionary. According to Benedikt XVI,

"Vi possono essere singoli casi giustificati, ad esempio quando una
prostituta utilizza un profilattico, e questo può essere il primo passo
verso una moralizzazione, un primo atto di responsabilità per
sviluppare di nuovo la consapevolezza del fatto che non tutto è
permesso e che non si può far tutto ciò che si vuole

Quick and dirty translation: "There may be occasional justified uses, for instance when a prostitute uses a profilactic, and this may be the first step toward a moralization, a first act of responsibility to develop again the understanding of the fact that not everything is allowed and not everything one wants can be done."

Okay, not much. But still, an important step in the right direction, toward the realization that the real world is something different from what exists in the minds of the Pope and his bishops. I await a more important step, one which would enable christians to use the condom to protect themselves from AIDS infection. He did not go that far this once, but maybe the next time... In the meantime, people having unprotected sex keep dying of AIDS in Africa (and elsewhere), and this is not something morally acceptable to me.