The Vatican is to receive condoms in the post from subscribers to a Facebook group protesting Pope Benedict XVI's recent comments against the use of condoms to combat AIDS in Africa.
Organisers of the Italian group on the social networking website said 60,000 subscribers will send a condom to the Vatican on Friday.
But deliveries could total millions after similar Facebook groups across the world also pledged to participate.
Condoms will be ''addressed to the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, 00120 Vatican City'' and organisers are hoping they will all arrive on April 1.
The Italian group said the gesture was intended as a ''peaceful provocation... from young people, who are probably the most involved with the problem of sexually transmitted diseases''.
The Facebook campaign began in Italy but has spread through Europe, with thousands of people joining from France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Austria and Bulgaria, organisers said.
The pontiff grabbed headlines worldwide last Tuesday after saying condoms not only do not help, but ''increase the problem'' in the spread of AIDS as he spoke to journalists on his flight to Africa.
His comments came under heavy fire from AIDS agencies, humanitarian organisations, the European Commission and various European governments including those of Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and Luxembourg.
Italian bishops on Monday accused the media, some European politicians and international organisations of having ''mocked'' the pope with their ''offensive'' and ''vulgar'' attacks.
Rallying round the pope, the head of Italian Bishops Conference (CEI), Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, said the barrage of criticism against the pope had ''been prolonged beyond good reason''.
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