Pope Francis says greed will 'destroy the world'

Profits are coming at the expense of people, the Pope told a conference in Rome

Pope Francis has urged world leaders to be more altruistic and to better look out for the poor and hungry — or else mankind's greed will destroy will world.

In a speech at the Second International Conference on Nutrition in Rome, the 77-year-old Pope said: "God always forgives, but the earth does not.

"Take care of the earth so it does not respond with destruction."

The Argentine leader of the Catholic Church slammed the international community for paying "too little heed to those who are hungry."

He also hit out at the world's profit-priority culture, arguing it comes at the expense of the undernourished and impoverished.

"It is painful to see the struggle against hunger and malnutrition hindered by market priorities, the primacy of profit, which reduce foodstuffs to a commodity like any other, subject to speculation and financial speculation in particular," he said.

"We ask for dignity, not for charity."

This is not the first time the Pope has launched an attack on those who benefit from market speculation — last year in his exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, Francis denounced financial speculation as a sin.

At the conference, he credited the UN food agency and World Health Organisation with helping to develop a "framework for action" to tackle world hunger that the 190 delegates in attendance would hold to.

His speech was met with a standing ovation, and he closed by saying: "Feed the hungry, save life on the planet."

More than 800 million people do not have enough food to stay healthy; one in six children across the world is underweight; and two billion people suffer from nutrient deficiencies sometimes called 'hidden hungers'.

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