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Pope condemned the "corruption" and "labor exploitation" in Italy

Francis Pope condemned the "corruption" and "labor exploitation" during his visit Tuesday to the town of Prato, the textile capital of Italy, where thousands of foreigners work, most of them Chinese without papeles. AFP

"The sacredness of all human beings requires respect, acceptance and decent work," cried the Pope to the thousands of people gathered in the plaza of the Cathedral of Prato, emblem of the Italian textile industry.

The pontiff arrived about to 08H00 local time (07H00 GMT) by helicopter to the municipal sports field of town for a short visit of nearly two hours to workers.

Located about twenty kilometers from Florence, Prato is especially the capital of the Chinese community living in the peninsula.

According to unofficial estimates, about 50,000 Chinese living in that city, a third of the population, many of them in difficult and illegal conditions.

The Argentine pope, who usually give priority in their visits to what it calls "peripheries" of society, chose this time to one of the most multi-ethnic cities in Italy, which the episcopal conference has 123 different nationalities.

Employment and integration were the themes that the Pope addressed during his brief stay during which he also recalled the tragedy of December 2013, when seven Chinese workers were killed by the fire at the factory in which they lived and worked.

"Life in every community requires that fight to end cancer of corruption and illegality poison", urged the pope.

- Appalling conditions -

Working conditions of much of the Chinese community are often appalling. Often sleep and work in the same establishment, they do not learn the language or know the region and its customs.

For twenty years, the Chinese community in Italy, among the largest in Europe, Prato handles all levels of apparel production, with very competitive prices and labeled "Made in Italy".

To combat illegality in the sector president confederation of artisans World China, Wang Li Ping, he told AFP that have created an information system "door" through which disclosed the security measures of respect for the environment and the laws that must be met.

"We help them to respect the Italian law," says the entrepreneur.

Respect for the law, working hours and the improvement of living conditions of workers are some of the measures required by various sectors of society.

"I encourage everyone to not give more to resignation," the pope.

Francisco helicopter then moved to Florence where he visited the Baptistery and the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore.

The Pope met with a group of sick and had lunch with the poor who frequent the dining room of San Francesco Poverino in the square of the Annunziata.

Francisco also met with representatives of the V Congress of the Italian Episcopal Conference, whom he invited to promote "a church troubled" willing to renew. Priests must be "humble, simple and happy," he said.

The day will conclude with a Mass at the municipal stadium Artemio Franchi, after which he will return to Rome towards the local 18H00 (17H00 GMT).

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