VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis urged anti-austerity protesters who attended his weekly Angelus blessing to use dialogue and not violence to press their demands.
Addressing a group of protesters among the pilgrims gathered Sunday in St. Peter's Square, the pope appealed for "a constructive contribution, rejecting the temptation for conflict and violence and following always the path of dialogue."
The pope read aloud one of their banners: "The poor cannot wait." He urged everyone from charities to Italian authorities "to do everything possible so that every family can have a house" this holiday season.
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Protests aimed at impressing upon Italian leaders the pain inflicted on ordinary people by the country's economic crisis have been under way across the country for two weeks. Some of them have erupted into violence.
The pope expressed support for the protesters, known as the "Pitchfork Movement." The movement was initially inspired by a group of Sicilian farmers but has grown into a wider wave of unrest expressing frustration with the government's failure to turn around the economy.
Protesters have marched in several cities, mostly peacefully, but some have blocked roads and disrupted trains. There were clashes with police in Turin, and accusations that shopkeepers were bullied to close their doors and join the movement.
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