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Pope tells 1million at Mass: God hears cry of the poor

Mass following: Pope Francis greets a crowd waving flags in Antananarivo PICTURE: EPA

POPE FRANCIS said Mass before 1million people in Madagascar yesterday.

The pontiff began his day on a dusty field in the capital Antananarivo, where those at an evening vigil spent a cold, windy night securing spots for the Sunday service.

They cheered and waved Madagascar and Holy See flags as Francis looped through the crowd on his popemobile, kicking up red dust in his wake.

Francis told the crowd to work not only for their own personal agendas and goals but for others. Later, he insisted ‘poverty is not inevitable’ and the poor deserve the dignity of work as he visited a hilltop rock quarry. At the Akamasoa project, or ‘City of Friendship’, which sits on a hillside above a rubbish dump, Francis told villagers and quarry workers God had ‘heard the cry of the poor’.

Its founder, the Rev Pedro Opeka, said the low salaries he pays the quarry workers are an injustice, but better than what scavengers earn at the dump. ‘Akamasoa is a revolt against poverty,’ he said.

Today, Francis travels to the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius on the final day of his week-long trip.