Rome, Italy, Jan 26, 2021 / 16:53 pm
An Italian cardinal said Tuesday the country is seeing a surge of “new poor” due to the coronavirus pandemic, and warned that the situation is putting many at risk of becoming victims of usury.
“The fracture of the new forms of poverty is becoming more and more pressing,” Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti said in a video press conference Jan. 26.
The president of the Italian bishops’ conference said “the socio-economic situation in which our country finds itself is a source of growing concern: it is clear that a series of problems of a structural nature that have been known for a long time, and have been underestimated for a long time, must be addressed in an indelible way.”
Speaking at the start of the winter working session of the conference, the cardinal highlighted the “fractures” in society, which the coronavirus pandemic has transformed from “isolated to associated.”
The gift of reconciliation, he said, commits us “as Christians and citizens, to a response of communion and co-responsibility.”
Bassetti noted that the John Paul II National Anti-Usury Council has identified that in Italy, 3 million households, including families and family businesses -- about 7.5 million individuals -- are insolvent, and that 350,000 families are at risk of usury.
Bassetti also said that the Catholic charity Caritas has seen an increase in the number of people who turn to them for material assistance, and that it found the number of “new poor” to have increased from 31% to 45% in the summer of 2020 compared with 2019.
Experts have warned that criminal organizations are taking advantage of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.