Pope Francis warns unemployment can lead to 'suicide' in annual Lent message

Holy Father urges faithful to convert to justice, equality and simplicity

Pope Francis has warned "unjust" social conditions like unemployment can lead to sin, financial ruin and even suicide.

In his message for Lent, the Jesuit pope said depriving people of the dignity of work, education and access to health care can lead to "moral destitution".

He said: "How much pain is caused in families because one of their members- often a young person- is in thrall to alcohol, drugs, gambling and even pornography."

"In such cases, moral destitution can be considered impending suicide," he added.

Pope Francis urged his faithful to "help and enrich" others by "our own poverty" ahead of Lent- a solemn period in the run-up to Holy Week and Easter, which pays tribute to Christ's death and resurrection.

He added: "Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt""

This is not the first time the outspoken Argentine pope denounces the devastating impact of social exclusion and income inequality on the poor.

In his first major work as pope, “Evangelii Gaudium” (The Joy of the Gospel), the Holy Father described capitalism as a "tyranny".

The Pope wrote: "How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"

"This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality.

"As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape."

The Pope also criticised trickle down economics, financial speculation and the excesses of capitalism.

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