* Pope returns to Rome after African trip
* Holds trademark airborne news conference
* Speaks of climate change, Africa, development
* Says Paris summit last chance to thwart disaster
By Philip Pullella
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, Nov 30 The U.N. climate
conference in Paris is most likely humanity's last chance to
thwart global environmental disaster, Pope Francis said on
Monday, warning the world was "at the limits of suicide".
The pope, who wrote a major document on the environment last
June, made the comment in an hour-long news conference aboard
the plane returning him to Rome at the end of a six-day trip to
The freewheeling conversations have become a trademark of
his papacy and the few times he takes direct questions from
Francis, who visited Kenya, Uganda and the Central African
Republic, also said the continent was "a martyr of exploitation"
by wealthy countries who lust after its natural resources and
try to impose Western values instead of concentrating on
The pope was asked if the U.N. climate summit in Paris would
mark a turnaround in the fight against global warming.
"I am not sure, but I can say to you 'now or never'," he
said. "Every year the problems are getting worse. We are at the
limits. If I may use a strong word I would say that we are at
the limits of suicide."
He spoke of retreating glaciers in Greenland and low-lying
countries at risk from rising sea levels.
"I am sure that the (Paris delegates) have goodwill to do
something. I hope it turns out this way and I am praying that it
will," he said.
World leaders launched an ambitious attempt on Monday to
hold back the earth's rising temperatures, with the United
States and China -- the world's biggest carbon emitters --
urging the U.N. climate summit in Paris to mark a decisive turn
in the fight against global warming.
The pope's last stop in Africa was the Central African
Republic, one of the continent's poorest nations.
He made an unscheduled stop at the country's only paediatric
hospital, where doctors told him that they did not have oxygen
and that most of the children there were destined to die of
malnutrition or malaria.
He delivered medicines donated by a Rome hospital.
"Africa is a victim," he said. "Africa has always been
exploited by other powers ... there are some countries that want
only the great resources of Africa.
"But they don't think about developing the countries, about
creating jobs. Africa is martyr, a martyr of the exploitation of
history," he said.
He sidestepped a question about the Church's ban on the use
of condoms to stop the spread of HIV-AIDS, saying it was
reductive to talk about condoms while African countries were
mired in poverty, social injustice, wars and human trafficking.
The pope confirmed that next year he planned to visit Mexico
and hoped to be able to visit Armenia.
"But I am old and these trips are heavy," he said.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Janet Lawrence)