Pope criticises ‘throwaway culture’ that discards youth

Pontiff uses interview to link high European unemployment to neglect of older people

Pope Francis waves as he conducts his weekly general audience at St Peter’s Square at the Vatican yesterdday. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

Pope Francis waves as he conducts his weekly general audience at St Peter’s Square at the Vatican yesterdday. Photograph: Max Rossi/Reuters

Thu, Nov 28, 2013, 06:58

Pope Francis took on the issue of high youth unemployment in his first interview aired exclusively in his home country of Argentina yesterday, warning today’s “throwaway culture” had discarded a generation of young Europeans.

A day after issuing an 84-page platform for his eight-month-old papacy that blasted unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, the pontiff used the interview aired on the TN TV channel to link high European unemployment to its twin problem of neglecting older people who are past their earning prime.

“Today we are living in an unjust international system in which ‘King Money’ is at the centre,” he said in the interview.

“It’s a throwaway culture that discards young people as well as its older people. In some European countries, without mentioning names, there is youth unemployment of 40 per cent and higher,” he added. “A whole generation of young people does not have the dignity that is brought by work.”

European leaders pledged earlier this month to make fighting youth unemployment a priority, but came up with no new ideas to tackle a problem that risks fuelling social unrest.

Nearly 6 million people under the age of 25 are without work in the European Union, with jobless rates among the young at close to 60 per cent in Spain and Greece.

The pope’s scepticism over free markets and concern about the lack of ethics in finance were shared by his predecessor, Benedict XVI. But Pope Francis’s unassuming style and rejection of the traditional trappings of office lend his words particular weight.

“A people that cares neither for its youth nor for its older people has no future,” the pope said. “Young people take society into the future, while the older generation gives society its memory, its wisdom.”

Previously archbishop of Buenos Aires, the pope in March became the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years. He is the first South American pope.

Francis has called for a more austere Catholic Church that sides with the poor, and has promised to clean up the murky finances of the Vatican bank.

Reuters

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