Pope Francis has blamed poor policies and public administration for Argentina’s inflationary crisis and high poverty levels.
In a long interview with the Associated Press news agency, Francis said that inflation levels in his native Argentina were “shocking”. While emphasizing that he does not involve himself in politics, Francis said: “In 1955, when I finished secondary school, the poverty level in Argentina was 5%. Today it’s 52%, I think. What happened? Bad administration, bad policies.”
The pontiff added that he did not have any immediate plans for a trip to Argentina. Next week, he will travel to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The interview with Francis, the Catholic church’s highest authority, which took place today, was the first he had given since his predecessor, Pope Benedict, died on December 31. Benedict had taken the unusual step of retiring as Pope, meaning that he had until now still been alive and served as a figure of reference especially for more conservative bishops.
With regard to LGBTQ+ rights, Francis said that he views homosexuality as a sin, but not a crime. “We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity,” he said, adding that it was also a sin to “lack charity with one another.”
He criticized laws criminalizing homosexuality as “unjust”, saying that bishops around the world who support such legislation needed to adapt to recognize universal human dignity. It is the first time a pope has made a comment on such laws, according to the Associated Press.
The comments mark a change in position compared with his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, when he was a vocal opponent of Argentina’s equal marriage law, which was passed in July 2010.
With an eye on the US, Francis also voiced concern about the increasing use of gun violence, saying that while people have the right to defend themselves, that need had become “custom”.
“The arms industry is one of the most powerful and one says, this is what we’ve come to. Instead of making an effort to help each other live, we are making an effort to help each other kill. And about that, I say to myself: ‘Please, let’s say something so it stops.’”
Francis is now 86, and in recent years has undergone both an intestinal operation and treatment for a fractured knee, the product of a fall. When asked about his health, Francis said that he was well, adding: “For my age, I’m normal.”