Pope Francis: democracy in the world is in bad health

Pope Francis criticised the state of democracy and "populists" during a brief visit to Trieste, Italy.

"Democracy in the world today is not in good health," Pope Francis said during a speech closing a national Catholic event.

Without naming countries, the Pope warned against "ideological temptations and populists."

"Ideologies seduce, but they make you deny yourself," he said.

Ahead of last month's European Parliament elections, bishops in several countries also warned of the rise of populism and nationalism, with far-right parties now holding the reins of power in Italy, Hungary and the Netherlands.

Pope Francis has also called on people to "move away from the polarisations that impoverish" and has hit out at "self-referential power".

After Venice in April and Verona in May, the half-day trip to Trieste, a city of 200,000 inhabitants on the Adriatic Sea that borders Slovenia, was the third within Italy this year for the 87-year-old pontiff, who has suffered from increasing health problems in recent years.

Since the trip to the French city of Marseille in September 2023, the Argentine Jesuit has limited himself to domestic travel.

But he plans to spend almost two weeks in Asia in September, visiting Indonesia, Singapore and the islands of Papua New Guinea and East Timor.

The Pope's visit is due to end with a Mass in the city's main square before he leaves for the Vatican in the early afternoon. I BGNES