In a March 31 interview with communications students, Pope Francis responded to previous accusations of being a communist, explaining that his preference for the poor is in fact based in the Gospel. “I heard two months ago that a person referred to my preference for speaking about the poor, saying: 'This Pope is a communist, no?' And no, this is the banner of the Gospel, not of communism, of the Gospel,” the Pope explained during the encounter. Given to three Belgian youth who are studying communications sciences, the interview was broadcast on the evening of April 3 on the Belgium website deredactie.be., and was later picked up by Italian news agency ReppublicaTV. During the interview, one student asked the Pope where his preference for the poor and most needy comes from, to which the pontiff responded: “Because this is the heart of the Gospel, and I am a believer, I believe in God, I believe in Christ, I believe in the Gospel, and the heart of the Gospel is the poor.” “And because of this I believe that the poor are the center of the Gospel of Jesus. This is clear if we read it,” he affirmed. Later on, a student expressed to the Pope that despite not being a believer, she feels inspired by him because of his work. Pope Francis emphasized to the students that “people need to try to speak with authenticity.” “My authenticity is that I am speaking with brothers, all of us are brothers, believers, non-believers, of this religious profession, of another, Jews, Muslims, all of us are brothers. Man is at the center of history.” According to Italian agency RaiNews, the interview was part of the communications project “Verses Vis,” involving a group of 15 youths from an initiative in Fiandra, a town in Northern Belgium, who received permission from the Vatican to videotape the encounter. Responding to other questions, RaiNews reports that Pope Francis also observed that “in this moment of history, man has been cast down from being the most important, he has been drained to the peripheries, situated in the center of power, of money.” “In this world the youth are expelled. Also the children, we don't want children, only small families,” he continued, adding that “also the elderly are expelled: many of them die because of hidden euthanasia, because no one takes care of them.” “We have entered into a throwaway culture, and whatever doesn't serve this globalization is discarded: the elderly, children and the youth.”
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