Pope says democracy is ‘not healthy’, warns against populists | Political News

Speaking at an event in northeastern Italy, Pope Francis said a “crisis of democracy” was affecting several countries around the world.

Pope Francis denounced the current state of democracy and warned against “populists” during a brief visit to Trieste in northeastern Italy.

Speaking on Sunday at the Roman Catholic Church’s annual conference on social issues, the Pope said many people are excluded from democracy and the poor and vulnerable feel left to fend for themselves.

“It’s clear that democracy is not healthy in the world today,” he said, denouncing polarization and partisanship.

“Ideology is seductive. Some people liken it to the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Ideology seduces people but makes them deny themselves,” he said, citing a fairy tale in which a mousetrap uses magic powers to kidnap the town’s children.

He said a “crisis of democracy” was hitting many countries, but did not give specific examples.

Ahead of last month’s European elections, which already see far-right parties in power in Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands, Catholic bishops in several countries have warned of the rise of populism and nationalism.

The pope’s speech came on the day France holds parliamentary runoff elections, with the far-right National Rally (RN) party expected to win the most votes, a month after populist parties made big gains in the European Union elections.

Pope Francis urged people to “move away from impoverishing polarization” and condemned “selfish powers”.

“Let us not be seduced by easy solutions, but rather be passionate about the common good,” the Pope said, highlighting the damage caused by political “corruption and malfeasance.”

The Pope, who reigns as absolute monarch in the tiny Vatican City state, also said it was important to teach children the importance of democratic values, warning that “indifference is a cancer of democracy.”

“I am concerned about the low number of people who have gone to vote. Why is this happening?” he asked.

Pope Francis ended his visit to Trieste with a Mass before about 8,500 faithful in the city’s main public square, before returning to the Vatican in the early afternoon.

The 87-year-old pope moved around the area primarily in a wheelchair, as is now the norm, and appeared in good spirits.

In September, the pope will fly more than 32,000 kilometers (19,900 miles) over 12 days, visiting Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Singapore – the longest trip of his 11-year reign.

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