Pope Francis has accused politicians of hypocrisy during the coronavirus pandemic, calling it an opportunity to rethink how governments approach poverty.
The pontiff said the Covid-19 outbreak has exposed divisions in society and that there is a need for less consumption and more help for the poor.
In an interview he contributed to a BBC ‘Rethink’ set of talks about what should happen in the wake of the disease, he said: ‘This crisis is affecting us all, rich and poor alike.
‘And putting a spotlight on hypocrisy.
‘I am worried by the hypocrisy of certain political personalities who speak of facing up to the crisis.
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‘Of the problem of hunger in the world, but who in the meantime manufacture weapons.
‘This is a time to be converted from this kind of function of hypocrisy.
‘It’s a time for integrity.’
The Pope said the rate of consumption needs to be slowed.
‘Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity,’ he said.
‘Today I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world.
‘We need to reconnect with our real surroundings. This is the opportunity for conversion.
‘I see early signs of an economy that is more human. But let us not lose our memory once all this is past, let us not file it away and go back to where we were.’
The Pope called for a different attitude to the poor.
‘This is the moment to see the poor. Jesus says we will have the poor with us always, and it’s true. They are a reality we cannot deny. But the poor are hidden, because poverty is bashful.
‘There is such a large number of people who are on the margins. And we don’t see them, because poverty is bashful. They have become part of the landscape; they are things.
‘We can’t settle for a welfare policy such as we have for rescued animals, which is how the poor are often treated.’