Catholic theologians have been taken to the woodshed by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI for allegedly muddying up doctrinal waters.
Now Benedict has offered some ambiguity of his own on condom use in his interview with the German publication. The fact that the interview took place at all is remarkable and a credit to the pope. The crisis of credibility swirling around the Vatican may have played a large part in his choosing to break precedent (reporters have been clamoring for this for decades) but ultimately it was his own meritorious decision to do so.
Talking to the media without the usual protective filters is tricky business, as the pope undoubtedly realizes now if he didn't before. It tends to make interviewees overly simplify to assert their authority or overly nuance in an effort to satisfy everyone.
This pope's reputation has been as a sophisticated theologian with both style and clarity. In his previous role as John Paul II's doctrinal watchdog, he brooked no deviation from orthodox views, as he and John Paul saw them, and after becoming pope he continued to define issues sharply and firmly.