Rome (AFP) - Pope Francis admitted Monday the question as to whether the Church should allow the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS was a "complicated" one, but he said the world had bigger problems.
Grilled on the eve of World AIDS Day about the Roman Catholic Church's controversial opposition to condoms, the Argentine pontiff admitted the issue was "morally complicated for the Church", but refused to be drawn into a debate.
The Church is against all forms of contraception and instead says abstinence is the best way to avoid spreading AIDS.
Francis was speaking during a press conference aboard the papal plane on his return from a trip in Africa, where HIV/AIDS is still the number one cause of death.
The pope grudgingly admitted condoms are "one of the methods" which could prevent the spread of the HIV virus that causes AIDS, but was not pleased by the topic being raised.
"When people are dying from lack of water and food... your question seems too narrow," he told the German journalist who had raised the issue.
"The problem is bigger than that", he said, pointing among other things to malnutrition, slave labour, the lack of drinking water and arms trafficking.
The issue is a sticky one for the Church. On a trip to Cameroon and Angola in 2009, Francis's predecessor Benedict XVI was heavily criticised for refusing to budge on condom use.
In a book published the following year, he softened his stance slightly, saying the use of condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS may be justified in some cases -- but insisting that it was not a "moral solution".