No-work Sundays good for all: Pope

Pope Francis has lamented the demise of the Christian practice of not working on Sundays. (AAP)

Pope Francis has lamented the demise of the traditionally Christian practice of not working on Sundays.

Pope Francis has lamented the demise of the traditionally Christian practice of not working on Sundays, saying it has a negative impact on families and friendships.

Francis on Saturday travelled to Molise, an agricultural region in the heart of southern Italy where unemployment is chronically high.

While he said poor people need jobs to have dignity, he indicated that opening shops and other businesses on Sundays as a way to create jobs wasn't beneficial for society.

Francis said the priority should be "not economic but human," and that the stress should be on families and friendships, not commercial relationships. He added: "Maybe it's time to ask ourselves if working on Sundays is true freedom."

He said spending Sundays with family and friends is an "ethical choice" for faithful and non-faithful alike.

Francis, 77, appeared to have bounced back from a spate of illnesses which have caused him to cancel several appointments recently.

He flew by helicopter to Molise for a full day of activity, including a lunch appointment with poor people and a visit to a prison.

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