Pope Francis Visits Paraguayan Slum, Attacks Corruption And Capitalism

Speaking in Paraguay yesterday, Pope Francis blasted corruption and capitalism, calling for a world that is more respectful of human dignity. The Associated Press reports that Francis asked politicians and others in power “not to yield to an economic model which is idolatrous, which needs to sacrifice human lives on the altar of money and profit.” In the speech, the Pope also described corruption as “the gangrene of society.”

Pope Francis said that society’s leaders must also face up to their responsibility to help the poor, the Associated Press reported.

“Putting bread on the table, putting a roof over the heads of one’s children, giving them health and an education – these are essential for human dignity, and business men and women, politicians, economists, must feel challenged in this regard.”

The Pope gave a similar speech on July 9 while in Bolivia, as reported by the Inquisitr, where he called the pursuit of money “the dung of the devil.”

Amongst the attendees for Pope Francis’ speech was Horacio Cartes, Paraguay’s president, whose reputation has suffered from allegations of fraud in the past. BBC News reports that Cartes once spent seven months in prison on currency fraud charges, which were all later dropped.

Pope Francis described helping the poor as a tenet of Christianity, CNN reports.

“As Christians, we have an additional reason to love and serve the poor; for in them we see the face and the flesh of Christ, who made himself poor so to enrich us with his poverty.”

Rounding out his time in South America, the Pope also paid a visit to Banado Norte, a slum frequently hit by floods near the capital Asuncion, the Associated Press reported. It seems Francis had no intention of holding back, describing the area as “your land.” This refers to the fact that a large proportion of the slum’s residents are officially squatting on what is government-owned land.

In a speech that will extend his reputation as a man of the people even further, the Pope said he wished to visit the slum to learn of the residents’ trials and experiences. NBC News reported that Francis remarked on how, despite the poverty and hardship of life in Banado Norte, the residents’ spirits remain strong.

“Your struggles have not taken away your laughter, your joy and your hope. Struggles which have not lessened your sense of solidarity but if anything, have made it grow.”

One of the Pope’s final events in Paraguay is an open-air mass in Nu Guazu. But as Vatican Radio notes, there’s something rather unusual about the altar – it’s made of a variety of crops, including corn, coconut, squashes, and more. There’s also a more sentimental aspect to the altar – hundreds of prayers, written on the coconut shells while the altar was built.

What are your views on Pope Francis’ speeches? Let us know in the comments below!

[Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images]