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Poverty, joblessness 'real' problems in Italy, says Church

Italy not a 'swamp' of dishonesty, says bishops' conference head

27 January, 18:57
Poverty, joblessness 'real' problems in Italy, says Church (ANSA) - Rome, January 27 - Poverty is a "real" problem in Italy, but the country itself is not a "swamp" that cannot be redeemed, the president of the powerful Italian bishops conference (CEI) Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco said Monday.

Although debate over reforms of the State are "certainly necessary" these cannot come at the expense of tending to real economic problems of unemployment, poverty, and hopelessness, he said.

"Italy is not a swamp...despite examples of dishonest conduct," he said, speaking to a meeting of the CEI's permanent council.

Bagnasco also denounced the "unsustainable" conditions in Italian prisons and demanded changes to recognize the "dignity" of inmates.

His comments came the same day that the Bank of Italy said poverty in the country rose to 16% in 2012 from 14% in 2010.

One in three people living below the poverty line is an immigrant, the central bank said in its biannual report on family finances.