On a Nov. 30 in-flight press conference returning from his trip to Africa, Pope Francis said that efforts to push the Church to allow condom use to prevent HIV are too narrow and do not see the whole picture.
A journalist asked the Pope about HIV in Africa, saying, “We know that prevention is key. We know that condoms are not the only method of solving the epidemic, but it’s an important part of the answer. Is it not time for the Church to change its position on the matter? To allow the use of condoms to prevent more infections?”
“The question seems too small to me, it also seems like a partial question,” the Pope replied.
He continued in his response: “Yes, it’s one of the methods. The moral of the Church on this point is found here faced with a perplexity: the fifth or sixth commandment? Defend life, or that sexual relations are open to life? But this isn’t the problem.”
“The problem is bigger,” the Pope said. “This question makes me think of one they once asked Jesus: ‘Tell me, teacher, is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath? Is it obligatory to heal?’ This question, ‘Is doing this lawful,’…but malnutrition, the development of the person, slave labor, the lack of drinking water, these are the problems.”
“Let’s not talk about if one can use this type of patch or that for a small wound, the serious wound is social injustice, environmental injustice,” Pope Francis continued. “I don’t like to go down to reflections on such case studies when people die due to a lack of water, hunger, environment…when all are cured, when there aren’t these illnesses, tragedies, that man makes, whether for social injustice or to earn more money – I think of the trafficking of arms – when these problems are no longer there, I think we can ask the question ‘Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?’”
He concluded, “Because, if the trafficking of arms continues, wars are the biggest cause of mortality…I would say not to think about whether it’s lawful or not to heal on the Sabbath, I would say to humanity: “make justice,” and when all are cured, when there is no more injustice, we can talk about the Sabbath.”