Podemos cheers pope’s economic message to European Parliament

“We would like to meet him in the Vatican, or in Vallecas,” says leader of new leftist party

A photo tweeted by Podemos MEP Pablo Echenique during the pope’s speech.
A photo tweeted by Podemos MEP Pablo Echenique during the pope’s speech.TWITTER

A “brave” pope who departed from the rhetoric of his predecessors, and an “interesting” pope when he condemned “the scandal of the financial powers who are kidnapping our democracy.” Leader of new Spanish leftist party Podemos and MEP Pablo Iglesias called a press conference in Strasbourg on Tuesday to praise several sections of the speech Pope Francis made before the European Parliament that morning. “We disagree with some things, but you have to applaud the bravery of Jorge Bergoglio, who is capable of saying things that, when we say them, draw accusations of being populist.”

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Iglesias said Podemos “would like to meet with the pope, in the Vatican or in [the Madrid neighborhood of] Vallecas, wherever possible […]. We would agree on a lot of things.”

The Podemos leader criticized the fact that groups such as the European People’s Party and the Social Democrats looked visibly uncomfortable as the pope criticized the financial powers in his address. “The silences during these sections of the speech were very telling,” he said.

Iglesias added that he especially applauded the part in which Pope Francis said dignity was “incompatible with what those who do not fulfill social rights linked to work and human rights do.”

“The pope’s economic argument is @ahorapodemos’s argument,” fellow Podemos MEP Pablo Echenique agreed in a tweet.

The pope hits the target on the economy and social issues, but he attacks women when he talks about abortion”

However, Echenique gave a zero to Pope Francis – who was the first pontiff to address the European Parliament since Pope John Paul II’s visit in 1998 – in relation to his stance on LGBT and women’s rights. “The pope hits the target on the economy and on social issues (says an atheist). But he attacks women when he talks about abortion,” he wrote.

Podemos MEP Teresa Rodríguez was also highly critical. “I listened carefully to this pope until he called women who have abortions murderers,” she tweeted. “My sisters are not murderers.”

Six MEPs from the Plural Left grouping walked out of the chamber in protest against Pope Francis’s speech. “We left because we believe that this is a public institution and religious sermons do not belong here,” Plural Left spokeswoman Marina Albiol told newswire Efe.

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