Original of the pope's German interview
Thread poster: Madeleine MacRae Klintebo

Madeleine MacRae Klintebo  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:19
Swedish to English
+ ...
Dec 3, 2010

My son's RS (religious study) class has discussed the recent pronouncement by the pope that condoms can be acceptable, in certain circumstances. According to my son's teacher, there appears to have been some kind of mistranslation - the interview was originally published in a German newspaper.

I assume that this could be the case when it comes to English translations as the pope is German and the interview, with a German newspaper, presumably was conducted in German. And I've found this statement on the internet about potential translation inconstancies:

"The English translation of the original German specified "male prostitute." The Italian translation in L'Osservatore Romano, however, used the feminine "prostitute." The discrepancy wasn't immediately clear."

Could someone please point me in the direction of the original German text?

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Johanna Timm, PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 07:19
Member (2002)
English to German
+ ...
German original Dec 3, 2010

"The German quotation: “Es mag begründete Einzelfälle geben, etwa wenn ein Prostituierter ein Kondom verwendet, wo dies ein erster Schritt zur Moralisierung sein kann, ein erstes Stück Verantwortung.”
“There may be justifiable individual cases, for example if a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step towards moral development, a first bit of responsibility.” “Male prostitute,” looks like deliberate choice on his part. The German noun die Prostituierte is feminine, but here he chose to use the declined adjective that has both a masculine and feminine form, and he used the masculine. There is a German noun for a male prostitute, der Strichjunge, that refers to a youth, which may be the reason he chose not to use it, given the abuse scandal. Even more curious is why the Italian, as Mary points out, translated the example in the feminine, una prostituta, thus changing the Pope’s meaning."


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Giles Watson  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:19
Italian to English
Italian "prostituto" Dec 4, 2010

It wasn't just a comment to a newspaper. The term appears in a book-length interview with Benedict XVI called "Light of the World", which is available in four languages.

The Italian edition stirred up a hornet's nest with its use of the feminine noun "prostituta", occasioning an ecclesiastical damage-limitation exercise in Italy. Part of the campaign was this article by one of the Corriere della Sera's Vatican correspondents, in essence blaming any confusion on the translator (in the singular; was no one checking?):

(in Italian)

In an article I translated for the Corriere della Sera:



the term used by the Vatican spokesman is "prostituto", a much less common masculine variant of "prostituta".

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Original of the pope's German interview

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