Pope John Paul II has advocated the used of flavoured condoms after Vatican researchers discovered they are technically classified as ‘novelty toys' rather than contraceptives.
Plans are now afoot to install flavoured condom vending machines on St Peter's Square in Rome.
Papal spokesman Jean Claude Renoit insisted the Vatican had not made a U-turn in its anti-contraception policy. He said it was merely following long-established Papal doctrines that "give Catholics the right to cover their genitalia in latex if they so wish".
Speaking to a gathering of journalists he particularly recommended the use of lime and curry flavoured sheaths.
"These two flavours, because of their slight acidity, can really ‘spice' things up," he said with a wry smile.
In the past, AIDS activists and health advocacy groups have criticised the Pope for what they call his ‘irresponsible' anti-contraception stance despite the fact that 42 million people worldwide are now infected with the HIV virus.
AIDS campaigner Hugh Goreton welcomed the Vatican's action but said it "did not go far enough" to address the ever-growing AIDS threat.
"I would prefer to see Pope John Paul II give a practical demonstration of how to safely use these condoms, perhaps with his financial adviser Bishop Paul Marcinkus during his Sunday morning address," he said.
However Vatican policy director Bishop Marco Snidus denied the world had an HIV problem.
"We've heard of one or two isolated cases, that's all," he said.
He also defended the Pope, saying he could "in no way" be blamed for the spread of HIV.
"All he's done is tell millions of people that it's a sin to protect yourself from a killer disease," he commented. "It's not as if he has much influence over these kinds of things."