Pope Francis has blamed poor policies and public administration for Argentina’s inflationary crisis and high poverty levels.

In a long interview with the Associated Press news agency, Francis said that inflation levels in his native Argentina were “shocking”. While emphasizing that he does not involve himself in politics, Francis said: “In 1955, when I finished secondary school, the poverty level in Argentina was 5%. Today it’s 52%, I think. What happened? Bad administration, bad policies.”

The pontiff added that he did not have any immediate plans for a trip to Argentina. Next week, he will travel to South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

The interview with Francis, the Catholic church’s highest authority, which took place today, was the first he had given since his predecessor, Pope Benedict, died on December 31. Benedict had taken the unusual step of retiring as Pope, meaning that he had until now still been alive and served as a figure of reference especially for more conservative bishops.

With regard to LGBTQ+ rights, Francis said that he views homosexuality as a sin, but not a crime. “We are all children of God, and God loves us as we are and for the strength that each of us fights for our dignity,” he said, adding that it was also a sin to “lack charity with one another.”