The National Catholic Review

At a press conference earlier to launch Light of the World, the Vatican's spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, acknowledged there had been confusion over the question of the gender of the prostitute cited by Pope Benedict. And he got the Pope to clear it up for him.

He said the Italian version of the book, which translated the pope’s example as “prostitute” using the feminine gender, was an error. The original German used the masculine noun for prostitute, but there was debate over whether the word was being used generically or specifically.

“I asked the pope personally if there was a serious or important problem in the choice of the masculine gender rather than the feminine, and he said no, that is, the main point — and this is why I didn’t refer to masculine or feminine in (my earlier) communiqué — is the first step of responsibility in taking into account the risk to the life of another person with whom one has relations,” Father Lombardi said.

“Whether a man or a woman or a transsexual does this, we’re at the same point. The point is the first step toward responsibility, to avoid posing a grave risk to another person,” Father Lombardi said.

Reporting this, the Associated Press describes the Pope in the book as saying "condom use by people such as male prostitutes was a lesser evil"; but he never uses the term "lesser evil", and he doesn't endorse any other particular moral principle.