France condemns Pope's remarks on condoms in Africa

Wed Mar 18, 2009 4:34pm EDT
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PARIS (Reuters) - Senior French politicians of all colors roundly criticized Pope Benedict Wednesday for saying the use of condoms was complicating the fight against AIDS.

Benedict made the comment Tuesday as he was traveling to Africa, re-affirming the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to condoms. But French leaders said he had gone too far.

"I am very worried by what has happened. I think this is opposite of tolerance and understanding and I am very sorry about it," French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said.

Human Rights Minister Rama Yade said she was "dumbfounded" by the Pope's comments, saying it risked undermining the fight against AIDS. Other politicians went further, questioning whether the Pope's ability to run the Church.

"This Pope is beginning to pose a real problem," former Prime Minister Alain Juppe was quoted as saying by French television.

Pope Benedict seemed to be "living in a situation of total autism," Juppe said.

Veteran Greens politician Daniel Cohn-Bendit told France Info radio: "I've had enough of this Pope now."

More than 25 million people have died from AIDS since the early 1980's, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa, and some 22.5 million Africans are living with HIV, the virus that causes

AIDS.   Continued...