Pope: Exploiting workers for profit is a mortal sin

Reflecting on the Gospel parable of the suffering a rich man endures after death for not helping a poor man who had lived outside the door of his home, begging for food, the pontiff said: "God's mercy toward us is tied to our mercy towards our neighbors". He reportedly outlined a hypothetical situation in which a business employs someone from September to June but denies them health care coverage during their tenure.

The statements contained a brief story of a young girl who sought the pope for help, explaining her story in a working shift that lasted 11 hours for 650 euros a month, an under the table job she could lose at any moment.

During his speech, an indignant Pope Francis outlined an unfortunate, yet all-too common scenario in which uninsured employees work for a period of time before being let-go "to eat air". Her employers reminded her that she could leave if she couldn't handle the terms of the job - there were plenty of others like her who would do the work instead. He said those who exploit workers are no different than the human traffickers of the past who enslaved Africans and sold them in the Americas. "The blood of all these people that you have sucked", and on which "you have lived, is a cry to the Lord, it is a cry of justice". (This is) living off the blood of people.

'We used to think that slaves no longer exist: they exist'.

How Christians treat the poor is the clearest demonstration of their relationship with God, Pope Francis insisted. This is a mortal sin.

The pope has also decried the immoral use of money on an global scale, saying during a visit to Mexico earlier this year that the Latin American country should disentangle itself with the unclean drug trade. This is a mortal sin. "It requires a great deal of penance, a great deal of restitution, in order to be converted from this sin".

But in an increasingly "fragmented and indifferent" world in which people choose to "isolate themselves from harsh realities" they'd rather not face, this task is becoming more and more hard, he said. "They couldn't close the coffin", because "he wanted to take all that he had with him, and he couldn't". The rich man, left unnamed, is described as being in the netherworld and left "in torment".

Pope Francis concluded his homily by asking that that the Lord might "make us understand today the simplicity that Jesus speaks to us of in today's Gospel: a glass of water in the name of Christ is more important than all the riches accumulated through the exploitation of the people".

As long as Lazarus sat outside his house, the Rich Man had the opportunity for salvation, yet he denied it, and "the situation has become irreparable".

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