Pope Francis says Church does not want 'dirty money'

(Reuters) - The Catholic Church does not want people to donate "dirty money" earned by abusing low-paid workers, Pope Francis said on Wednesday (March 2).

"Some donors come to the Church offering profits from the blood of people who have been exploited, mistreated, enslaved with badly paid work," he said during his regular weekly audience with pilgrims at the Vatican.

"I will say to them: 'Please take your money away, burn it'," said the Pope, who has made safeguarding the poor and cleaning up Vatican finances central tenets of his papacy.

"The people of God, that is the church, do not need dirty money, they need hearts that are open to God's mercy," he said.

The Pope has branded money "the dung of the devil" and condemned the evils of unbridled capitalism, prompting criticism from some US business leaders.

Pope Francis has increased the power of the Vatican's financial intelligence authority (AIF) but the European finance watchdog Moneyval said last year the Holy See still needed to be much more aggressive in prosecuting financial crimes.