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Pope: Plight of homeless is a disgrace in ‘civilized’ cities

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Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY — It’s a disgrace that children live on the streets and young girls and women are forced into prostitution, especially in societies that claim to be highly developed and cultured, Pope Francis said.

A homeless man searches a trash can for bottles and cans to redeem for money in New York City in 2014. Ahead of Pope Francis' apostolic visit to the United States in September, some are bracing themselves for more criticisms from the pope, this time directed specifically at the U.S. culture and economy. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)
A homeless man searches a trash can for bottles and cans to redeem for money in New York City in 2014. Ahead of Pope Francis’ apostolic visit to the United States in September, some are bracing themselves for more criticisms from the pope, this time directed specifically at the U.S. culture and economy. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz)

“Every child abandoned or forced to live on the streets, at the mercy of criminal organizations, is a cry rising up to God,” he said.

It is a cry of accusation “against a social system that we have criticized for decades but that we struggle to change,” he said in an audience Sept. 17 to participants of an international symposium on the pastoral care of people on the street. The Sept. 13-17 symposium was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers.

“It is troubling to see the increasing number of young girls and women forced to earn a living on the street by selling their own bodies, victims of exploitation by criminal organizations and at times by parents and family members,” he said.

Such a situation “is a disgrace in our societies, which boast of being modern and having achieved high levels of culture and development,” he added.

The pope said Christians must be involved in helping innocent people forced onto the streets by safeguarding their dignity and bringing “the goodness and the tenderness of God” to them.