A Vatican insider says Pope Benedict XVI is seeking to "kick-start a debate" with his suggestion that using condoms could be acceptable in some cases as a means of fighting AIDS.

Benedict said in an interview that for some people, such as male prostitutes, using condoms could show moral responsibility because the intent is to reduce infection. Theologians have long been studying the possibility of condoning such limited condom use as a lesser evil.

One Vatican official said Monday he believes the pope just "decided to do it" and get a debate going.

The pope did not suggest using condoms as birth control, which is banned by the Roman Catholic church.