CAMPOBASSO, Italy (AFP) - Pope Francis denounced "the scourge of unemployment" during a visit to one of Italy's poorest regions on Saturday, and said businesses had a responsibility to help get people back into work.
"It is necessary to put human dignity at the centre of every point of view and every action. Other interests, even if legitimate, are secondary," he told a crowd of thousands during a mass in the Molise region.
"Employment is a challenge that is the particular responsibility of institutions, the financial world and business." Italy scraped back into growth at the end of last year after suffering the worst recession since World War II, but unemployment in the euro zone's third-largest economy remains near record levels.
The problem is particularly acute in Molisa, one of Italy's smallest regions, where official data showed 16.4 percent of people were without jobs in the first quarter of the year.
Pope Francis met with young people earlier in the day to discuss youth unemployment - a major problem in Italy, where 43 per cent of people aged 15-24 are without a job.
"We cannot resign ourselves to losing a generation that has no job and therefore has no dignity," he said.