Secretary of State Colin Powell encouraged the use of condoms by the sexually active last week on a global broadcast of MTV.

When a 19-year-old Roman Catholic asked Powell’s thoughts on the church’s teachings about condoms, Powell said he respected the pope and the Catholic Church, according to

“In my own judgment, condoms are a way to prevent infection, and therefore, I not only support their use, I encourage their use among people who are sexually active,” Powell said.

He said condoms are part of the solution to the HIV/AIDS crisis.

“It is important that the whole international community come together, speak candidly about it, forget about taboos, forget about conservative ideas with respect to what you should tell young people about it. It’s the lives of young people that are put at risk by unsafe sex, and therefore protect yourself,” Powell said.

Powell’s Thursday evening remarks drew a swift rebuke on Friday from religious right leaders.

Kenneth Conner, president of the Family Research Council, called Powell’s statement “shocking,” “irresponsible” and “reckless.”

“Powell misled millions of young people worldwide when he advocated condoms to protect against the spread of sexually transmitted diseases,” Conner said. “Secretary Powell literally put young lives at risk in comments on MTV.”

Conner expressed his doubt about the spontaneous nature of Powell’s comments and charged that his statement looked “suspiciously like a political strategy.”

“He would do much better to stick to what he knows. It obviously isn’t the effectiveness of condoms,” said Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America.

“Powell is the Secretary of State, not the Secretary of Health,” said James Dobson, president of Focus on the Family, according to AgapePress. “He is talking about a subject he doesn’t understand.”

The MTV audience was gathered in studios in Washington, London, Moscow, Cairo, New Delhi, Milan and San Paulo.

Defending his remarks on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Powell said that any other statement than the one he made about condoms was “reckless and irresponsible.”

He said, “I don’t take one step back from the remarks I made.”

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