Pope decries populists, warns democracy is in bad health

July 7, 2024
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Pope Francis denounced populist politics and what he called “the dross of ideology” on Sunday, warning that democracy was not in good shape in many parts of the world.

The 87-year-old pope was in the northeastern city of Trieste for a flying visit, his fourth trip within Italy in just over two months as he prepares for a 12-day journey across Asia in September, the longest of his papacy.

Speaking at an annual Roman Catholic convention on social affairs, Francis said many people felt excluded from democracy, with the poor and the weak left to fend for themselves.

“It is evident that democracy is not in good health in today’s world,” he said, denouncing polarization and partisanship.

“Ideologies are seductive. Some people compare them to the Pied Piper of Hamelin. They seduce you, but they lead you to deny yourself,” he said, referring to a fairy tale where a rat catcher uses his magic powers to steal away a town’s children.

He said the “crisis of democracy” afflicted various nations, but did not give any specific examples.

The pope was speaking on the day France holds a parliamentary run-off election, with the far-right National Rally (RN) expected to take the biggest share of the vote, a month after populist parties scored gains in European Union elections.

“Let us not be deceived by easy solutions. Let us instead be passionate about the common good,” the pope said on Sunday, highlighting the damage caused by political “corruption and illegality.”

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