Pope: Condoms Make AIDS Crisis Worse

On visit to Africa, pope makes first statement on their use

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Mar 17, 2009 8:09 AM CDT

(Newser) – Condoms are not the answer to Africa's fight against AIDS, and in fact exacerbate the epidemic, Pope Benedict said at the start of a 7-day visit to the continent today. It's the first explicit statement about condoms from the pontiff, who has said that the Roman Catholic Church is at the forefront of the battle against AIDS. The Vatican encourages sexual abstinence to fight the spread of the disease.

"You can't resolve it with the distribution of condoms; on the contrary, it increases the problem," the pope said on the way to Cameroon, where he will begin a seven-day pilgrimage. Some priests and nuns working with those living with HIV/AIDS question the church's opposition to condoms amid the pandemic ravaging Africa. The pope also said today that he intends to make an appeal for "international solidarity" for Africa in the face of the global economic downturn.

Cameroonian nuns look at a special edition magazine on the visit of Pope Benedict XVI as they wait for the start of rehearsals for Wednesday's Vespers ceremony with the pope.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Pope Benedict XVI gestures from the airplane before leaving from Rome's Leonardo da Vinci airport for a trip to Africa that includes stops in Cameroon and Angola, Tuesday, March 17, 2009.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
A portrait depicting Pope Benedict XVI, painted by Cameroonian artist Jules Ricky Soh Fongang in honor of the pope's coming visit, outside Mary Queen of Apostles Basilica in Yaounde.   (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
The seven-day pilgrimage is Benedict's first trip as pontiff to Africa, the fastest-growing region for the Roman Catholic Church.   (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)
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