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Pope slams ‘populism sirens’ as he marks Poor People’s Day

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Pope slams 'populism sirens' as he marks Poor People's Day
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ROME — Pope Francis denounced the “sirens of populism” on Sunday, calling for a renewed commitment to help the poor, homeless and migrants amid Italy’s latest migration debate.

Francis celebrated the Catholic Church’s World Day of the Poor by inviting hundreds of poor and homeless people and migrants to the Vatican for a special Mass and lunch. He denounced the world’s indifference to them as well as the “prophets of doom” who fuel fear and conspiracies about them for personal gain.

“Let us not be enchanted by the sirens of populism, which exploit people’s real needs with easy and hasty solutions,” François said.

This year’s commemoration comes as Italy is once again at the center of a European migration debate, with Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s far-right government clashing with France over the fate of those rescued in Mediterranean. Italy kept four lifeboats at sea for days until three of them landed last week and forced France to take in the fourth. The impasse sparked a diplomatic row that led France to suspend its participation in a European redistribution program and to strengthen its border crossings with Italy.

Francis lamented that the war in Ukraine only worsens the plight of the poor, who are still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic, as well as natural disasters and climate change.

“Today too, much more than yesterday, many of our brothers and sisters, sorely tried and discouraged, migrate in search of hope, and many people experience precariousness due to lack of employment or working conditions. unjust and unworthy,” he said. .

To show concrete acts of solidarity, the Vatican invited some 1,300 people to lunch in the Vatican Audience Hall after Mass.

Additionally, free medical checks that had been paused due to COVID-19 resumed this week in St. Peter’s Square, providing health checks, vaccinations, blood tests, electrocardiograms as well as tests for hepatitis C, tuberculosis and HIV. Parishes in the area were distributing some 5,000 boxes of basic foodstuffs donated by a supermarket, including about 10 tons of pasta and 5 tons of rice, according to a statement from the Vatican’s evangelization office.

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