Pope criticises focus on 'idol called money'

CAGLIARI, Italy (AFP) - Pope Francis on Sunday hit out at an "unethical, unfair" economic system that idolised money, saying it was behind suffering and unemployment as he visited the struggling Italian island of Sardinia.

The pope was welcomed by thousands as he arrived in Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, an idyllic island where behind the picture-perfect beaches, youth unemployment is up to 51 per cent.

Francis broke from his official speech to tell the crowd of his family's suffering after his father emigrated from Italy to Argentina. "He suffered the terrible crisis of 1929 (the Great Depression) and lost everything... I felt this suffering throughout my childhood," he said.

The pontiff said the lack of a job robbed one of dignity and he criticised "the consequence of a global choice, of an economic system centred on an idol called money." He said he wanted to put the focus back on people.

"Let us all fight the money idol, against an unfair system without ethics in which money rules everything," he said to loud applause from the crowd.

"To protect this idolatrous system we abandon the weakest, the elderly, those who have nowhere to sleep... Even the young are abandoned and left without dignity."

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