Pope Francis has called for a global economic system that puts people and not "an idol called money" at its heart, drawing on the hardship of his immigrant family as he sympathised with unemployed workers in a part of Italy that has suffered greatly from the recession.
Addressing about 20,000 people in the Sardinian capital of Cagliari, the Argentinian pontiff said that his parents had "lost everything" after they emigrated from Italy and that he understood the suffering that came from joblessness.
"Where there is no work, there is no dignity," he said, in ad-libbed remarks after listening to three locals, including an unemployed worker who spoke of how joblessness "weakens the spirit". But the problem went far beyond the Italian island, said Francis, who has called for wholesale reform of the financial system.
"This is not just a problem of Sardinia; it is not just a problem of Italy or of some countries in Europe," he said. "It is the consequence of a global choice, an economic system which leads to this tragedy; an economic system which has at its centre an idol called money."
The 76-year-old said that God had wanted men and women to be at the heart of the world. "But now, in this ethics-less system, there is an idol at the centre and the world has become the idolater of this 'money-god'," he added.