A Rome high school has incurred the ire of the Catholic Church after its decision to install condom-vending machines for students.

Cardinal Agostino Vallini, the pope's vicar for Rome, has criticized the decision as trivializing sex, while the Italian bishops' newspaper said Thursday that sex was being reduced to "mere physical exercise."

The Keplero high school said it would go ahead with its plan to install six vending machines as part of its efforts to educate students in sexuality and HIV protection.

The Vatican opposes artificial contraception.

Pope Benedict XVI drew widespread criticism when he said last year that distributing condoms was not the answer to Africa's AIDS problem. He stressed instead abstinence and marital fidelity.