Pope Francis made one of his strongest attacks yet on the global economic system yesterday, saying it could no longer be based on a "god called money."

Pope Francis made one of his strongest attacks yet on the global economic system yesterday, saying it could no longer be based on a "god called money."

Francis urged the jobless in the Sardinian capital to fight for work as he put aside his script at a meeting with unemployed workers and improvised for 20 minutes.

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"I find suffering here ... It weakens you and robs you of hope," he said. "Excuse me if I use strong words, but where there is no work there is no dignity."

The crowd of about 20,000 people chanted what Francis called a prayer for "work, work, work" and cheered as he spoke of workers' rights.

Sardinia's coast is home to some of the world's richest people, but half of Cagliari's young people are jobless. The island is threatened with closure of a coal mine and an aluminium smelter.

The Pope added: "It is not a problem of Italy and Europe ... It is the consequence of a world choice, of an economic system that brings about this tragedy, an economic system that has at its centre an idol which is called money."

He later celebrated Mass for 300,000 people outside the city's cathedral, saying : "We don't want this globalised economic system which does us so much harm. Men and women have to be at the centre as God wants, not money. The world has become an idolator of this god called money."