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African Catholics March in Support of Vatican AIDS Policy

A group of African Catholics gathered Sunday in Saint Peter's Square in support of Pope Benedict XVI's opposition to using condoms to combat AIDS.

A group of about 100 African Catholics were in Saint Peter's Square waving African flags and banners that read "Africa Loves the Pope". This is the first Sunday since the pope paid his first visit to the African continent, visiting Cameroon and Angola.

The pope prayed for Africa and urged the faithful to join him again for the customary general audience on Wednesday. He said he would have more to say then about his recent trip to Africa.

The Africans in the square turned out to listen to the pope's words and show their support for what Benedict said against the use of condoms to combat AIDS. Among the crowd was a Nigerian Catholic, Benedict Ahamiogie.

"The condom promotes promiscuity, and also gives a kind of illusive assurance to those who use condoms, in the sense that 'Oh, I am using condoms. So I am keeping myself safe from AIDS'. It is not absolutely true," said Benedict Ahamiogie.

Speaking on the plane traveling to Africa, Pope Benedict had said the distribution of condoms does not help combat AIDS, but increases the problem.

One African Catholic priest, Father Dennis Isizo, said the pope's message was well received.

"In Africa, we did not criticize the Holy father, we received the message," said Father Isizo. "Criticism, that is maybe for Europe or any other place, but for Africa we are happy for the visit, we thank him for his visit, we thank him for his message."

Pope Benedict has said the Catholic Church teaching of abstinence and fidelity is the only way to combat the AIDS problem. His comments have ignited a firestorm of criticism from health officials and activists who said his words were unrealistic and unscientific.