Pope: There are bigger issues than condoms and HIV

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Pope Francis visits Central African Republic
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Pope: There are bigger issues than condoms and HIV
Pope Francis waves to the crowd on the occasion of his visit at the Central Mosque in Bangui's Muslim enclave of PK5, Central African Republic, Monday Nov. 30, 2015. The Pope was welcomed by a crowd of people and prayed inside the Central Mosque. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd on the occasion of his visit at the Central Mosque in Bangui's Muslim enclave of PK5, Central African Republic, Monday Nov. 30, 2015. The Pope was welcomed by a crowd of people and prayed inside the Central Mosque. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pope Francis (C) shakes the hands of children upon his arrival to the Central Mosque in the PK5 neighborhood on November 30, 2015 in Bangui. Pope Francis on November 30 said Christians and Muslims were 'brothers', urging them to reject hatred and violence on a visit to a mosque in a flashpoint Muslim neighbourhood of the Central African Republic's capital Bangui. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Crowds cheer at Pope Francis upon his arrival in Bangui, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. The Pope has landed in the capital of Central African Republic, his final stop in Africa and where he will seek to heal a country wracked by conflict between Muslims and Christians. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pope Francis meets with children during a brief, unscheduled stop at a pediatric hospital on his way to Bangui cathedral, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. Pope Francis is in Africa for a six-day visit that is taking him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis comforts a child during a brief, unscheduled stop at a pediatric hospital on his way to Bangui cathedral, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. Pope Francis is in Africa for a six-day visit that is taking him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis visits an internally displaced people camp at St. Saviour parish in Bangui on November 29, 2015. Pope Francis arrived as 'a pilgrim of peace' in conflict-ridden Central African Republic on November 29, flying in from Uganda on what will be the most dangerous destination of his three-nation Africa tour. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd on the occasion of his visit at the Central Mosque in Bangui's Muslim enclave of PK5, Central African Republic, Monday Nov. 30, 2015. The Pope was welcomed by a crowd of people and prayed inside the Central Mosque. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
A young women reaches to greet Pope Francis gestures as he leaves after visiting an Internal Displaced people camp at St. Saviour parish on November 29, 2015 in Bangui, Central African Republic. Pope Francis arrived as 'a pilgrim of peace' in conflict-ridden Central African Republic, flying in from Uganda on what will be the most dangerous destination of his three-nation Africa tour. AFP PHOTO/GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
In this picture taken Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015, Pope Francis opens the holy door of the Bangui cathedral, Central African Republic. Pope Francis is in Africa for a six-day visit that is taking him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
A crowds of people cheer at Pope Francis upon his arrival in Bangui, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. The Pope has landed in the capital of Central African Republic, his final stop in Africa and where he will seek to heal a country wracked by conflict between Muslims and Christians. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pope Francis is cheered by locals as he visits a refugee camp, in Bangui, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. The Pope has landed in the capital of Central African Republic, his final stop in Africa and where he will seek to heal a country wracked by conflict between Muslims and Christians. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis walks with the pastoral staff as he arrives to celebrate a mass in the Barthelemy Boganda Stadium, in Bangui, Central African Republic, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Cheering residents of the Muslim enclave of PK5 sing: "the war is over", as they reach the stadium where Pope Francis celebrates Mass in Bangui, Central African Republic, Monday, Nov. 30, 2015. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pope Francis opens the holy door of the Bangui cathedral, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. Pope Francis is in Africa for a six-day visit that is taking him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis meets children during a brief unscheduled stop at a pediatric hospital on his way to Bangui cathedral, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. Pope Francis is in Africa for a six-day visit that is taking him to Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic.(L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis arrives at Notre Dame cathedral in Bangui, Central African Republic on the third leg of his Africa trip Sunday Nov. 29, 2015. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pope Francis blesses children during his visit at a refugee camp, in Bangui, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. The Pope has landed in the capital of Central African Republic, his final stop in Africa and where he will seek to heal a country wracked by conflict between Muslims and Christians. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
People cheer at Pope Francis upon his arrival in Bangui, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. The Pope has landed in the capital of Central African Republic, his final stop in Africa and where he will seek to heal a country wracked by conflict between Muslims and Christians. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pope Francis gestures as he gives his blessing during a visit to an internally displaced people camp in Bangui on November 29, 2015. Pope Francis arrived as 'a pilgrim of peace' in conflict-ridden Central African Republic on November 29, flying in from Uganda on what will be the most dangerous destination of his three-nation Africa tour. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis is cheered by locals as he visits a refugee camp, in Bangui, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. The Pope has landed in the capital of Central African Republic, his final stop in Africa and where he will seek to heal a country wracked by conflict between Muslims and Christians. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)
Pope Francis (C) arrives in the PK5 neighborhood to meet with members of the Muslim community on November 30, 2015 in Bangui. Pope Francis on November 30 said Christians and Muslims were 'brothers', urging them to reject hatred and violence on a visit to a mosque in a flashpoint Muslim neighbourhood of the Central African Republic's capital Bangui. AFP PHOTO / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP / GIANLUIGI GUERCIA (Photo credit should read GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP/Getty Images)
People reacts during the visit of Pope Francis at the Evangelic community in Bangui on November 29, 2015. Pope Francis arrived as 'a pilgrim of peace' in conflict-ridden Central African Republic on November 29, flying in from Uganda on what will be the most dangerous destination of his three-nation Africa tour. AFP PHOTO / GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE (Photo credit should read GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP/Getty Images)
People cheer at Pope Francis upon his arrival in Bangui, Central African Republic, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2015. The Pope has landed in the capital of Central African Republic, his final stop in Africa and where he will seek to heal a country wracked by conflict between Muslims and Christians. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Pope Francis, flanked by aide Alberto Gasbarra, arrives in Bangui, Central African Republic, Sunday Nov. 29, 2015. The Pope has landed in the capital of Central African Republic, his final stop in Africa and where he will seek to heal a country wracked by conflict between Muslims and Christians. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
Central African Republic police secures the area around the airport before Pope Francis arrives in Bangui on the third leg of his Africa trip Sunday Nov. 29, 2015. Pope Francis has landed in the capital of Central African Republic, his final stop in Africa and where he will seek to heal a country wracked by conflict between Muslims and Christians. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)
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ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE (AP) -- Pope Francis has dismissed a question about whether condoms can be condoned in the fight against AIDS by saying there are more important issues confronting the world, like malnutrition, environmental exploitation and the lack of safe drinking water.

Francis was asked about the church's opposition to condoms while returning Monday to Rome from Kenya, Uganda and the Central African Republic. Africa in general and Kenya and Uganda in particular have been hard hit by the AIDS epidemic, and the Catholic Church has faced criticism that its position has contributed to the problem.

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Francis' predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, earned the wrath of health care professionals, gay rights activists and the U.N. by saying on a visit to Africa that condoms weren't the answer to fighting HIV and can actually make it worse.

Francis has made scant reference to AIDS in his speeches this past week. He did, however, visit with HIV-infected children at a Uganda hospital and kissed each one, listened to moving testimony from a girl born with the virus and thanked the church's health care workers for caring for those infected.

A clearly irked Francis criticized the question directed at him during his in-flight press conference about whether the church should change its position on condoms to limit HIV's spread. He said it "seems too small, partial," when there are bigger issues confronting humanity.

"I don't like getting into questions or reflections that are so technical when people die because they don't have water or food or housing," he said.

He said when those problems are taken care of, questions like condoms and AIDS can be addressed.

Francis has previously signaled that he doesn't want to get drawn into culture war issues over contraception or abortion, and his response Monday was very much in that line.

Francis was euphoric, though, about his first trip to Africa, saying he was constantly surprised by the continent and the ability of its people to find joy with so little.

He denounced how Africa has constantly been exploited by foreign powers, citing the slave trade and those who "only look to take Africa's riches."

"Africa is a martyr, it's a martyr of exploitation over history," he said. "I love Africa for this."

Related: See photos of the Pope Francis' recent visit to the United States:

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Pope's visit to the U.S. (Washington DC, New York, Philadelphia)
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Pope: There are bigger issues than condoms and HIV
Pope Francis reaches out to 5th grader Omodele Ojo, of the Brooklyn borough of New York, as he is greeted while arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, Pool)
Pope Francis waves from his car, a Fiat 500, after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Pope is spending three days in Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. This is the Pope's first visit to the United States. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Pope Francis, left, walks with President Barack Obama, right, after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015. The Pope is spending three days in Washington before heading to New York and Philadelphia. This is the Pope's first visit to the United States. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Pope Francis waves from a Fiat 500 as his motorcade departs from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, where President and Mrs. Obama welcomed him. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama and Pope Francis walk down the Colonnade before meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Pope Francis wave to the crowd on the South Lawn from the Truman Balcony of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, during a state arrival ceremony. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama talks with Pope Francis in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (Tony Gentile/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis give the thumbs-up from the popemobile during a parade around the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
ADDS NAME OF GIRL - Pope Francis reaches to give a blessing to Sophie Cruz, 5, from suburban Los Angeles, during a parade in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. She also delivered a bright yellow T-shirt and a letter expressing wishes that her mother and father and millions of others who are in the U.S. illegally are allowed to remain in the country. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
Seminarians greet Pope Francis, bottom center, as he walks into the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, before holding a mass to canonize Junipero Serra. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Nuns sit in their pews while waiting for Pope Francis to arrive inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the popemobile during a parade in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, following a state arrival ceremony at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
Pope Francis conducts Mass outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, making history as the first pontiff to do so. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
The sun begins to rise as people gather on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, for a chance to see Pope Francis. The pope spoke to the crowd outside from a balcony after his address to a joint meeting of Congress. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Pope Francis listens to applause before addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, making history as the first pontiff to do so. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Cartrice Haynesworth, center, has a selfie taken with Pope Francis as he walks through the crowd during a visit to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/David Goldman, Pool)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Mark Perez wears a button bearing the image of Pope Francis while waiting for him to arrive for a visit to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington September 24, 2015, in Washington, DC. The charity serves dinner to about 300 homeless people daily at the site, and it will serve a meal during the pope's visit. (Photo by David Goldman-Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis touches the cheek of a young girl as he prepares to depart the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, en route to Andrews Air Force Base. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Pope Francis, accompanied by members of Congress, waves to the crowd from the Speakers Balcony on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, after addressing a joint meeting of Congress inside. Doug Mills / The New York Times via AP, Pool))
Pope Francis carries his own briefcase up the stairs before boarding his plane before leaving from Andrews Air Force Base, Md., en route to New York, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
A New York City police officer searches nuns outside St. Patrick's Cathedral prior to the arrival of Pope Francis in New York, Thursday Sept. 24, 2015. (Damon Winter/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
Pope Francis engages well-wishers including Gerard Gubatan, of the Brooklyn borough of New York, center left, after arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle, Pool)
Pope Francisí motorcade moves through New York City streets, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, on the way to St. Patrickís Cathedral where he will lead an evening prayer service. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, Pool)
Audience members await the entrance of Pope Francis before he leads an evening prayer service at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (Robert Deutsch/USA Today via AP, Pool)
Faithful cheer as Pope Francis enters St. Patrick's Cathedral to lead an evening prayer service Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)
Pope Francis waves at the audience while sitting in the head of state chair before addressing the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Pope Francis addresses the 70th session of the United Nations General Assembly, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 at United Nations headquarters. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Pope Francis places a white rose at the South Pool of the 9/11 Memorial in downtown Manhattan, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Pope Francis, center left, reads during a multi-religious service at the 9/11 Museum, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 in New York. The Pope is on a two-day visit to New York which includes addressing the United Nations and holding mass at Madison Square Garden before heading to Philadelphia. (Monika Graff/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis visits the 9/11 Museum, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 in New York. (Susan Watts/New York Daily News via AP, Pool)
NEW YORK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 25: Pope Francis visits Our Lady Queen of Angels School September 25, 2015 in the East Harlem neighborhood of New York City. The pope is in New York on a two-day visit carrying out a number of engagements, including a papal motorcade through Central Park and celebrating Mass in Madison Square Garden. (Photo by Kena Betancur-Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis, center, enters Madison Square Garden to celebrate Mass, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 New York. (Andrew Burton/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis celebrates high Mass at Madison Square Garden, Friday, Sept 25, 2015, in New York. (Alejandra Villa/Newsday via AP, Pool)
A crucifix hangs above member of the clergy who watch as Pope Francis, not shown, celebrates Mass at Madison Square Garden, Friday, Sept. 25, 2015 New York. (Michael Appleton/The New York Times via AP, Pool)
In this photo provided by World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis kisses and blesses Michael Keating, 10, of Elverson, Pa after arriving in Philadelphia and exiting his car when he saw the boy, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, at Philadelphia International Airport. Keating has cerebral palsy and is the son of Chuck Keating, director of the Bishop Shanahan High School band that performed at Pope Francis' airport arrival. (Joseph Gidjunis/World Meeting of Families via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
Colleen Feldmann, of Fallsington, Pa., center, and Sister Donna with Missionaries of Charity in India, right, cheer as Pope Francis arrives at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Philadelphia. Francis wraps up his U.S. visit this weekend in Philadelphia, where he speaks in front of Independence Hall and celebrates Mass on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway to close out a big rally on Catholic families. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Pope Francis passes the crowd in his pope mobile on Independence Mall in Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. The pope spoke at Independence Hall on his first visit to the United States. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson, Pool)
Pope Francis makes his way to the World Meeting of Families festival along Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. (Jewel Samad/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the popemobile during a parade along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway on Saturday, June 26, 2015, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd during a parade Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015, in Philadelphia. The pontiff attended a music-and-prayer festival there Saturday night to close out the World Meeting of Families, a Vatican-sponsored conference of more than 18,000 people from around the world. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, Pool)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - SEPTEMBER 26: Pope Francis waves to the crowd gathered on the route to the Festival of Families along Benjamin Franklin Parkway on September 26, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Pope is concluding his U.S. tour by spending two days in Philadelphia, having visited Washington D.C. and New York City. (Photo by Eric Thayer-Pool/Getty Images)
American singer Aretha Franklin sings as Pope Francis and others listen during the World Meeting of Families festival in Philadelphia, Saturday, Sept. 26, 2015. (Tony Gentile/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis greets inmates during his visit to Curran Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (David Maialetti/The Philadelphia Inquirer, Pool)
Pope Francis gestures to inmates next to a wooden chair made for him by inmates during his visit to Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (Tony Gentile/Pool Photo via AP)
People gather on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway before the Papal Mass on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015, in Philadelphia. Pope Francis is in Philadelphia for the last leg of his six-day visit to the United States. (AP Photo/Michael Perez)
Pope Francis waves from his popemobile as he heads to celebrate Mass at the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families along the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in Philadelphia, Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. (Tony Gentile/Pool Photo via AP)
WYNNEWOOD, PA - SEPTEMBER 27: Pope Francis greets seminarians as he walks the loggia to his address to the Bishops at St. Martin of Tours Chapel at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary, September 27, 2015 in Wynnewwod, Pennsylvania. After visiting Washington and New York City, Pope Francis concludes his tour of the U.S. with events in Philadelphia on Saturday and Sunday. ((Photo by Tom Gralish-Pool/Getty Images)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd at Philadelphia International Airport in Philadelphia as he departs for Rome on Sunday, Sept. 27, 2015. Pope Francis wrapped up his 10-day trip to Cuba and the United States on Sunday. (AP Photo/Laurence Kesterson, pool)
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