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‘Give voice to poor’ urges Pope Francis on World Day of the Poor

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Pope Francis spoke up for the least fortunate on World Day of the Poor during a visit to Assisi on Friday, denouncing economic inequality and calling for jobs.

The Argentine pontiff, whose papacy has been marked by advocacy for the poor and disenfranchised, was welcomed in the city of Saint Francis in central Italy by more than 500 people, including from Poland, Croatia, Spain and France.

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In front of the Porziuncola, the small chapel within the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Angels where Francis of Assisi founded his eponymous order and died in 1226, six people spoke of their past, including homelessness, prison or living in war zones.

“It is time for the poor to have their say again, because for too long their demands have not been heard,” said the 84-year-old pope.

“It is time to open our eyes to see the inequality in which so many families live. It is time to roll up our sleeves to restore dignity by creating jobs,” Francis said.

Criticizing “the injustice of certain economic measures” and “the hypocrisy of those who want to enrich themselves beyond all proportion,” the pontiff called for an “examination of conscience.”

One man, 54-year-old Louis Royer, said he had spent nearly half of his life on the street. The pope’s visit, he said, was “a great sign of hope.”

“Today, we are all equal, there are no big or small. It warms the heart,” he told AFP.

This is the pope’s fifth visit to Assisi since his election in 2013.

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