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On visit to struggling Sardinia, Pope decries idolatry of money

Catholic World News - September 23, 2013

During a one-day visit to Sardinia on September 23, Pope Francis denounced a global economy that has made an idol of money, and encouraged the unemployed to keep up their spirits.

“Don’t let yourselves be robbed of hope,” the Pope said to a crowd in the city of Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia. On his arrival there, the Pope announced that he was setting aside his prepared remarks to speak from the heart, to people in a community suffering from severe poverty and soaring unemployment. He said that he understood their plight, having often heard his parents speak about the poverty they endured before emigrating from Italy to Argentina.

“Where there is no work, there is no dignity,” the Pope observed. He reminded the people of Sardinia that their economic problems are far from unique. They are, he said, “the consequence of a worldwide choice, an economic system that leads to this tragedy, an economic system that has at its centre the idol of money.”

Pope Francis urged his audience to resist the “throwaway culture” that has led to such suffering. “We must say, ‘We want a just system!’” he told them.

After his initial address, the Pope travelled to the shrine of Our Lady of Bonaria, where he celebrated Sunday Mass. In his homily he returned to the issue of economic justice:

The loyal cooperation of everyone is necessary, with the commitment of leaders of institutions — even within the Church — to ensure the fundamental rights of persons and families, and to grow more fraternal and united. To ensure the right to work, to bring home bread, bread earned through work!

The Pope reminded the people of Sardinia that they could count on the intercession of the Virgin Mary in their times of trouble. “We need her tender gaze, her maternal gaze that knows us better than anyone else, her gaze full of compassion and care,” he said.

Later in the day, addressing a group of poor people, the Pope remarked that “charity is not a simple question of providing assistance,” and insisted that Christians should show real care for their neighbors rather than simply donating to sooth their own consciences. He added that “arrogance in the service of the poor” is particularly deplorable.

Before leaving Sardinia for his return flight to Rome, Pope Francis addressed a crowd of young people, and urged them to maintain hope. He exhorted them to avoid the “merchants of death” who prey on young people who have lost hope in themselves.

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