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Pope: Condom issue is 'morally complicated'

Pope Francis has dismissed a question about condoning condoms in the fight against AIDS, saying that the world is facing bigger issues. The pope left Africa after visiting Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.

The Roman pontiff admitted that condom use is "one of the methods" which could prevent the spread of HIV, while talking to journalists aboard the papal plane on Monday.

Francis was flying back to Rome after a five-day tour in Africa, when a reporter asked him if the Catholic Church should allow the use of condoms to combat the spread of AIDS.

The head of the Catholic Church did not provide a definite answer on the "morally complicated" issue, criticizing the question instead.

"I don't like getting into questions or reflections that are so technical when people are dying because they don't have water or food or housing," he told the German reporter, according to the AP news agency.

"The problem is bigger than that," he added.

Pope Francis also pointed to slave labor, environmental exploitation and arms trafficking as some of the more significant problems facing humanity.

Questions like condoms and AIDS can be addressed when the other issues he mentioned are resolved, according to the pontiff.

Abstinence against AIDS

The topic of AIDS and HIV has taken a back seat during the pope's visit to the three African countries.

However, the Vatican chief took the time to visit the HIV-infected children at a Uganda hospital, and thank the church's health care workers for looking after the infected.

AIDS is the number one cause of death among adolescents in Africa.

Francis' predecessor Benedict XVI sparked international criticism during his 2009 Africa visit by saying that condoms could make the AIDS situation worse.

The previous pope later admitted that using condoms was justified in some cases, but insisted they were not a "moral solution."

The Church discourages Catholic believers from using artificial birth control methods. Instead, the Vatican recommends abstinence as a way to stop AIDS.

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dj/gsw (AP, AFP, Reuters)

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