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Do we have a subconscious idea that Africa exists to be exploited?

BANGUI,AFRICA: Children touch the hand of Pope Francis as he visits a refugee camp after arriving in Bangui on November 29, 2015. Pope Francis arrived as "a pilgrim of peace" in conflict-ridden Central African Republic on November 29, flying in from Uganda on what will be the most dangerous destination of his three-nation Africa tour. AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE

Or does the developed world see the continent as a friend that can be assisted?

Do developed countries head to Africa simply to take advantage of it, operating on some deep-down idea that the continent exists to be exploited?

That is the suggestion Pope Francis made on his return flight from Colombia, in a press conference that has become a customary part of the conclusion of papal trips.

The pope spoke about Africa in the context of a question on immigration, in which he said that an open heart must be the first virtue governing the immigrant issue, but there’s also a need for prudence.

Lauding Italy and Greece for “opening their hearts,” he said, “The problem of immigrants is first of all an open heart, always; it’s also one of God’s commands, isn’t it? ‘Welcome [foreigners], because you were a slave in Egypt.’  But a government must manage this problem with the virtue proper to one who governs: prudence.”

The Holy Father said that prudence leads to the question of how many immigrants can be not only received, but also integrated.

He noted that on his return from Sweden, he spoke of that country’s integration policy as a model. “But Sweden also has prudently said: I can’t take in this number, because there is the risk of non-integration.”

Then at the end of the comments, the pope turned his attention to Africa, saying there was “one last thing that I want to say, regarding Africa above all.”

“In our collective subconscious there is another principle: Africa exists to be exploited,” he reflected.

The Holy Father continued: “Today in Cartagena, [Colombia], we saw an example of human exploitation … A head of government said a truth about this: Those who flee from war are a different problem, but there are many who are fleeing from hunger.

“Let us invest there, so they can grow. But in our collective subconscious, there’s the idea that when developed countries go to Africa, it’s to exploit it. On the contrary: Africa is a friend, and should be helped to grow.”

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