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Pope Says Deeply Troubled by Migrants’ Plight

  • VOA News

Pope Francis waits for a group of young people carrying a wooden cross in Turin, Italy, June 21, 2015.

Pope Francis waits for a group of young people carrying a wooden cross in Turin, Italy, June 21, 2015.

Pope Francis said Sunday the plight of migrants seeking to escape war and poverty in North Africa and the Middle East brings tears to his eyes.

Francis spoke to a group of laborers in the Italian city of Turin while European Union ministers haggle over who is to take care of more 100,000 refugees who have arrived on European shores via Italy since January.

The pope denounced what he said is a system that treats people like "merchandise," and said the refugees should not be blamed for trying to get jobs.

"If immigration increases competition, they cannot be blamed because they are the victims of inequality, of this throwaway economy, and the wars."

Francis also heaped strong criticism on arms manufacturers and those who invest in such companies, calling them hypocrites for claiming to be Christians.

Reaching back into history, Pope Francis condemned world powers for doing nothing to stop the massacre of Armenians in the First World War and taking little action during the Nazi Holocaust in World War II.

"The great powers had photographs of the railways that brought trains to the concentration camps, to Auschwitz, to kill Jews, Christians, Gypsies, homosexuals," Francis said. "But tell me why didn't they bomb them? The great powers...divided Europe like a cake."

Francis also prayed before the renowned Shroud of Turin - a piece of ancient cloth bearing what believers say is the image of Jesus Christ. Some say the cloth was his burial shroud. Others call it a fake.

Since becoming pope in 2013, Francis has earned a reputation as an outspoken religious leader, frequently taking up subjects rarely addressed by other prominent figures.

Last week, he demanded action to fight global warming, accusing industrialized countries of exploiting the poor while turning the planet into "an immense pile of filth."

He has also called for more tolerance toward homosexuals and blasted what he has descried as unbridled capitalism.

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