Pope Francis sparked the furious reaction of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme listeners after taking up the prominent morning slot with an essay calling for a review of the global economic system. The Pope called on consumers to reign in their spending as he called for producers to slow down their activities in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. But his message fuelled an angry backlash from listeners who took to social media to question the Holy Father’s advice.
One user wrote: “Seriously, wtf am I listening to? This is ridiculous. If this is what we get instead of Government ministers, I’m out.”
Another commented: “#r4today air a very dry, minutes-long monologue advertising the Catholic Church. Bizarre.”
A social media user branded the message “creepy” as another questioned its length: “Will this reading be taking up all of the 8:10 slot?”
And one listener wrote: “#r4today why was the Pope sermonising on my radio box this am please? #notnews.”
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In his broadcast essay, the Pope said: “Every crisis contains both danger and opportunity.
“The opportunity to move out from the danger. Today, I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world.
“We need to reconnect with our real surroundings. This is the opportunity for conversion, I see early signs of an economy that is more human but let us not lose our memory when this is all passed.
“Let us not file it away and go back to the way things were.”
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Pope Francis also renewed his appeal to world governments about helping the poor once the pandemic is over.
The Pope warned the poorest in society had become “part of the landscape” and their pleas for help have gone ignored.
He added: “This is the moment to see the poor. Jesus says we will have the poor with us always, and it’s true. They are a reality we cannot deny. But the poor are hidden, because poverty is bashful.
In Rome recently, in the midst of the quarantine, a policeman said to a man, ‘You can’t be on the street, go home.’ The response was. ‘I have no home. I live in the street.’
There is such a large number of people who are on the margins. And we don’t see them, because poverty is bashful. They have become part of the landscape; they are things.