Pope Francis blessed the tax collectors

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Pope Francis today blessed the tax collectors, telling them that although they will never win a popularity contest, their work is vital to the smooth running of a just society.

Addressing a delegation of the Italian Public Revenue Service (Agenzia delle Entrate), the pope said that taxation is often treated as “putting your hand in someone else’s pocket”. He stressed, however, that everyone must pay their taxes, especially the rich, so that the weakest social groups are not “crushed by the powerful.”

“In fact, taxation is a sign of legitimacy and justice,” said Pope Francis.

Given the opportunity, the pope praised Italy’s national health system, which is mostly free, as an example of how tax revenues can be used properly, and spoke of “one of the most beautiful things “that the country has. “Defend it, because we must not slip into a health system where one has to pay, where the poor have no right to anything,” he continued.

At the same time, Pope Francis praised those who are consistent in their tax obligations, denouncing tax evasion and the informal economy.

In Italy, where a comedian once said that tax evasion is the most popular sport in the country after football, it is estimated that the state loses more than 100 billion euros every year.

Pope Francis also told tax collectors that although they are not treated with affection on earth, they have a patron saint in heaven. He reminded them that the apostle Matthew was a tax collector — a tax collector in Roman times — before he decided to follow Jesus.

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