Corruption is the ‘termite of politics,’ Pope Francis says

Corruption is the ‘termite of politics,’ Pope Francis says
Pope Francis arrives in John Paul II (Giovanni Paolo II) Square outside the Duomo cathedral, in Cesena, Italy, Sunday, Oct. 1, 2017. Pope Francis is in Cesena and Bologna for a one-day visit. (Credit: AP Photo/Antonio Calanni.)

ROME – Pope Francis on Sunday blasted corruption as the “termite of politics” because it doesn’t permit a society to grow, and described every good politician as a kind of “martyr” to service because he or she must be willing to set aside their own ideas and desires to seek the common good.

A good form of politics, the pope said, is “not subservient to individual ambitions or powerful factions and centers of interests,” drawing strong applause from a crowd in the central square of the Italian town of Cesena, where the pontiff was making a brief pastoral visit.

Francis called for a kind of politics that’s “neither a servant nor an owner, but a friend and collaborator … neither fearful nor reckless, but responsible and therefore courageous and prudent at the same time.”

The pope’s remarks came in what was billed as a “meeting with citizenship,” which basically meant the population of Cesena, a city of about 97,000 people in Italy’s north-central Emilia-Romagna region.

Good politics, the pope continued, “encourages involvement of people, their progressive inclusion and participation.” It doesn’t leave anyone at the margins, he said.

A pope known for his environmental leadership, including publishing the first-ever encyclical letter devoted to the care of creation in Laudato’ Si, also added a “green” note to his profile of good politics.

Such a form of politics, he said, “doesn’t plunder and pollute…

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