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Pope calls condoms a ‘Band-Aid,’ given Africa’s bigger problems


ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE — On the heels of a six-day trip to Africa in which he largely avoided debates over condoms and AIDS, Pope Francis on Monday described condoms as a “Band-Aid” solution to what he sees as the continent’s larger and more urgent humanitarian challenges.

The pontiff said questions about condom use are “too small” in the context of hunger, a lack of access to drinkable water, slave labor, environmental degradation, and war.

“When we no longer have these problems,” the pontiff said, then the conversation can turn to condoms. In the meantime, he said, “I don’t like doing casuistry,” meaning complicated moral reflections, “when people are dying for a lack of water and hunger.”

The pontiff said he felt “pain” in his encounters with the continent’s poor over the past week, including a visit to a Kenyan slum and a pediatric hospital in the Central African Republic, where a female doctor told him children routinely die of both malaria and malnutrition.

“If humanity doesn’t change course, misery, tragedies, [and] wars will continue, children will keep dying from hunger and injustice,” he said, pointedly asking what the small percentage of elites “that has in its hands 80 percent of the world’s wealth” thinks about the situation.

“This isn’t Communism,” the pope insisted. “It’s the truth.”

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