Pope Francis denounces Bangladesh factory collapse

(Photo: Reuters / Khurshed Rinku)People gather during a mass burial of unidentified garment workers, who died in the collapse of the Rana Plaza building in Savar, in Dhaka May 1, 2013. The European Union is considering trade action against Bangladesh, which has preferential access to EU markets for its garments, in order to pressure Dhaka to improve safety standards after the building collapse killed hundreds of factory workers.

In a Mass marking the feast of St. Joseph the Worker in Rome, Pope Francis used his homily to lambast the societal structures he felt were responsible for the recent Bangladesh factory collapse.

"People are less important than the things that give profit to those who have political, social and economic power," he said Wednesday, according to a Vatican Radio, news translation. "What point have we come to?"

More than 400 people died in the April 24 building collapse. About 2,500 people have been rescued, yet hundreds are still unaccounted for.

In his homily on May 1 also know in Europe as May Day or Workers' Day, Francis said our current economy has stripped people of their dignity, noting that God represents himself as a worker throughout the Bible.

"Work gives us dignity! Those who work have dignity, a special dignity, a personal dignity: men and women who work are dignified," he said.

"Not paying a just [wage], not providing work, focusing on statements, only looking at making personal profit, that goes against God!"

The 70-mllion strong Lutheran World Federation has also condemned the circumstances in the market that led the tragedy.

In the immediate aftermath of the collapse, the Anglican Church of Bangladesh gave water bottles, food and masks to the rescue teams digging people out of the rubble.

Members of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Bangladesh joined the recovery efforts on Wednesday and again on Saturday.

(Photo: L'Ossevatore Romano)Pope Francis washes the foot of a young man at the Casal del Marmo juvenile detention center in Rome on Thursday, March 28, 2013.

Eight people have been arrested in connection with the collapse, including the factory owner, and two engineers who ignored warnings about cracks in the building.

The owner, Mohammed Sohel Rana, is expected to be charged with negligence, illegal construction and forcing workers to join work, Forcing workers to join work carries a maximum seven-year jail sentence, which many Bangladeshis do not see this as harsh enough.

In the days after the collapse, thousands of Bangladeshi workers took to the streets in protest, demanding the death penalty for those responsible for the collapse.

"I want the death penalty for the owner of the building," Mongidul Islam Rana, an 18-year-old garment worker told the British newspaper, The Telegraph. "We want regular salaries, raises and absolutely we want better safety in our factories."

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