With a youth unemployment rate of 51 percent, Cagliari, the capital of Sardinia, made a poignant backdrop for Pope Francis, who visited the Italian island to meet with unemployed workers Sunday.
Before celebrating mass with 300,000 people outside the city's cathedral, the pontiff set aside his prepared text and spoke off the cuff about the dignity of an honest job and to discourage big business from worshiping the "god called money."
"The world has become an idolator of this god called money," he said. "We don't want this globalized economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the center (of an economic system) as God wants, not money."
Recalling his own parents' hardship in their early days in Argentina, the pope said he understood the pain the unemployed were feeling.
“I find suffering here," he said. "It weakens you and robs you of hope."
"Excuse me if I use strong words, but where there is no work there is no dignity," the pope added.
To cheers of "work, work, work!" from the crowd, Pope Francis invoked the example of Jesus, who had a job of sorts.
“Lord, you always had work, you were a carpenter and you were happy," he said. "But we don’t have work, our dignity is being robbed, an unjust system is robbing us of hope.”