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The BBC's David Willey reports from Rome
"Globalisation is a reality which must be managed wisely"
 real 28k

Monday, 1 May, 2000, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Pope warns against globalisation
Stage at Tor Vergata
Normally left-wing speakers address the crowds on May Day
Pope John Paul II has warned of the threat to basic human rights posed by the global economy.

Speaking at a May Day mass on the outskirts of Rome for workers from around the world, he stressed the importance of the individual.

John Paul II
The Pope called for action to tackle inequality

"New realities which are forcefully affecting the productive process, such as globalisation of finance, of the economy, of commerce and of work, should never be allowed to violate the dignity and centrality of the human person or the democracy of peoples," he said.

Pope John Paul II called on world leaders to "tackle economic and social inequality".

"Globalisation is a phenomenon present today in all aspects of life, but a phenomenon which needs to be wisely harnessed. It is necessary to globalise solidarity too," he added.

Protagonists

The Pope frequently addressed the drawbacks of globalisation in the early years of his pontificate, saying the process was leaving many economic orphans in its wake.

John Paul II
The prime minister is a fan, but some left-wingers were furious

He dedicated one of his major encyclicals to the rights of workers.

The Pope told the crowd, which included delegations of workers from 54 countries, that it was necessary to arrive at what he called "ethical guarantees" so that people were not instruments but protagonists of their own future.

He expressed particular concern for the unemployed, underemployed and underpaid during an address from a huge specially built altar platform.

"I feel very close in spirit to people who are forced to live in a poverty which offends their dignity and blocks them from sharing the goods of the earth and forcing them to feed themselves with what falls from the table of the rich," he said.

The Pope is to make an appeal later on Monday for remission of Third World debt.

Unions' disbelief

The mass was attended by Italy's new centre-left prime minister Giuliano Amato, who described the papal participation in May Day celebrations as "an important development."

"I have always been a fan of the pope," Mr Amato added.

But some left-wingers were incredulous at the Pope's appearance.

The Italian trade union movement usually holds a more explicitly political rally at this site in Tor Vergata, southwest of Rome on 1 May.

Denouncing the Tor Vergata mass as a "scandal," the left wing daily Il Manifesto said the pope's reincarnation as a labour leader beggared belief.

"The pope has appropriated the workers' festival," it added, before wondering: "Will he perhaps sing the 'Red Flag'?"

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