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Pope cautions care in Venice as he warns it “could cease to exist”

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Pope Francis celebrated Mass in St Mark’s Square where he recalled some of the environmental and social challenges Venice has faced in recent years.

The city was on the verge of being placed on UNESCO’s list of endangered monuments. New lifestyles and excessive tourism make living in Venice complicated. The city has lost more than half of its inhabitants since the 1950s.

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“Venice is one and the same with the waters on which it sits. Without the care and safeguarding of this natural scenery, it could even cease to exist,” the pope said.

The passage of large ocean liners and cruise ships was also blocked in some areas because the amount of water they move can damage the foundations of the city.

That is why the pope, from a city that is a tourism flagship, asked that the situation be handled with caution.

“We admire its enchanting beauty, but we are also concerned about the many problems that threaten it: climate change, which affects the lagoon’s waters and the territory,

“The fragility of the buildings and cultural heritage, but also that of the people; the difficulty of creating an environment that is suited to human beings through proper management of tourism.”

At the end of the celebration, Pope Francis entered the basilica to venerate the relics of St Mark before returning to Rome.

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