Vatican City

Pope rails against economic system that 'enslaves'

Throwing food away like stealing from poor, says via @Pontifex

Pope rails against economic system that 'enslaves'

(By Paul Virgo) Vatican City, June 7 - Pope Francis continued his drive to be the pontiff of the poor on Friday when he railed against a modern economic system that he said enslaves humankind. "Today the person is a slave and we have to free ourselves of these economic and social structures that make us slaves," Francis told a group of students from Jesuit schools at the Vatican when asked about the economic crisis. "This is your job. "Today the person does not count, what counts is money. Jesus gave us the world, all of creation, to man and woman so that they would take it forward, not money". Francis has repeatedly highlighted the need to combat poverty and hunger since being elected head of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics in March. He sees these problems as a result of the misplaced values of a modern world too preoccupied with money, empty consumerism and power and not sufficiently devoted to solidarity. "Global poverty is a scandal in a world in which we have so many riches and resources and enough for everyone to eat," Francis said. "What we are experiencing is a human crisis first and then an economic crisis. The problems of work, of the economy, are consequences of this great human problem". He told the students they should be free thinkers and not afraid to go against the flow, adding that good Catholics should not shy away from the world of politics either. "We Christians cannot play the part of Pontius Pilate, and wash our hands," the pope said. "We cannot. We have to get involved in politics because politics is one of the highest forms of charity because it seeks the common good. "Lay Christians have to work in politics". Pope Francis also blasted the modern consumer culture via Twitter on Friday and bemoaned the obscene amount of food that is wasted when hundreds of million do not have enough to eat. "Consumerism has accustomed us to waste," Francis said via @Pontifex. "But throwing food away is like stealing it from the poor and hungry". The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation says that roughly one third of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year - approximately 1.3 billion tonnes - gets lost or wasted. The FAO says that if just one-fourth of the food currently lost or wasted globally could be saved, it would be enough to feed the world's 870 million hungry people. Friday's tweet echoed the comments about food waste that he made at his general audience, which coincided with World Environment Day. The Argentine pope has made calling for greater respect to the environment a recurrent theme of his papacy, as did his predecessor Benedict XVI. "This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world, unfortunately, many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition," Francis said. "Once our grandparents were very careful not to throw away any leftover food. "Consumerism has led us to become used to an excess and daily waste of food, to which, at times, we are no longer able to give a just value, which goes well beyond mere economic parameters. "We should all remember, however, that the food we throw away is as if stolen from the table of the poor, the hungry". Francis has become enormously popular since his election, in part because of his warm, off-the-cuff, unconventional style and also because he practices what he preaches. This is seen by things like him deciding not to live in the papal apartments, but instead staying at Saint Martha's House, the hotel for Vatican visitors where he had stayed during the conclave, in one of a series of breaks he has made with Church tradition. "It's a problem of personality for me," Francis told the students when asked why he had snubbed the papal apartment. "I need to live among the people. If I lived alone, maybe a little isolated, it wouldn't be good for me. "A professor once asked me why I didn't live there (in the papal apartment) and I answered 'listen professor, it's for psychiatric reasons, because of my personality'. "The (papal) apartment is not so luxurious, but I can't live alone and I think that the times are telling us that there is a lot of poverty in the world and this is a scandal. "I, and everyone, must be as similar as possible to Jesus, who was the poor teacher".

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