By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
7/1/2014 (1 year ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Pope Francis has taken the Eternal City to task for its widespread moral decay. Child prostitutes, poverty and busy soup kitchens make the Argentine pontiff question the veracity of his adopted home, which he says, should be a "mirror to the world."
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 77-year-old Pope says the darker side of Roman life gives him "tremendous pain." Pope Francis granted a newspaper interview to mark the feasts of Saints Peter and Paul.
The Pope cited economic struggles, unemployment and Italy's falling birth rate.
Let's take time to pray for the less fortunate --
Speaking out in the Italian-language newspaper Il Messaggero, Pope Francis says that he had been sickened to learn that in his native Buenos Aires there were girls as young as 12 working as prostitutes.
"It made me sick. But even more so to see the powerful cars driven by old men pull up. They could have been their grandfathers. The little girl would be made up and the men would pay 15 pesos which would go towards buying drugs.
"For me, the people who do this to girls are pedophiles . It also happens in Rome. The Eternal City, which should be a beacon in the world, is a mirror of society's moral decay."
When asked whether he was more afraid of the moral degradation, or the material poverty of a city, Francis said that both made him "afraid."
Noting that many Roman families resort to soup kitchens in order to feed their families, the Pope said that "an auxiliary bishop of Rome told me that many people go to the soup kitchen and in secret, full of shame, take home food," he said.
He also blamed Europe's economic struggles for a falling birth rate, both in Italy and other European countries as people worried they could not afford to start a family.
"People are afraid of losing their jobs or not being able to pay the rent. Social policy does not help. Italy has a very low birth rate, and in Spain it is the same. France is a bit better, but it is also low.
"It is as if Europe has grown tired of being a mother, and would instead prefer to be a grandmother."
The Pope noted that "Much of this is caused by the economic crisis, not just from a cultural shift marked by selfishness and hedonism."
Not all of the comments the Pope had for the Eternal City were negative. He said he found the people of Rome "really likeable.
"I wish for them not to lose their joy, hope, and faith, despite the difficulties," he said.
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