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Pope Francis has criticised plans to introduce drug legalisation in Latin America during the inauguration of a rehab clinic in Rio de Janeiro.

Passing Idols

His holiness stated that the roots of drug abuse should be tackled during his recent trip to Brazil. The Argentinian-born pontiff spoke at his first mass in the continent against the ‘passing idols’ of money, power and pleasure.

Uruguay is on the verge of legalising marijuana and other South American nations are expected to follow. Pope Francis used his recent trip to the region to make public his feelings on drug abuse and the softening of laws in nations such as Uruguay. During a visit to a drug rehabilitation centre in Rio he hugged recovering addicts and spoke to them about their stories. He remarked that the centre was a “shrine to human suffering” before making his opinion on drugs known.

Leaders in Colombia, Bolivia, Ecuador and others have spoken for softer stances on drugs policy. In Uruguay, the project decriminalising marijuana sale is to be voted on in Congress next week. Uruguayan President Jose Mujica says its main goal is combating drug trafficking.

Dealers of Death

The pope was unequivocal in his stance on drugs and spoke out against drug dealers and traffickers across the continent.

He said: “A reduction in the spread and influence of drug addiction will not be achieved by a liberalisation of drug use, as is currently being proposed in various parts of Latin America”, he said.

“It is necessary to tackle the problems which are at the root of drug abuse, promoting more justice, educating the youth with the values that live in society, standing by those who face hardship and giving them hope for the future.

“How many dealers of death there are that follow the logic of power and money at any cost! The scourge of drug-trafficking, that favours violence and sows the seeds of suffering and death, requires of society as a whole an act of courage.”

Political Waters

This is one of the first big issues the recently instilled pontiff has publically spoken about. The pope’s words appeal to one of the biggest problems in South America, how to tackle drug trafficking, addiction and abuse. The region supplies all of the world’s cocaine and suffers serious repercussions of the drug culture and organised crime that occurs as a result.

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