Francis discussed three types of destitution — material, moral and spiritual — in his first message for Lent, the solemn period leading up to Holy Week and Easter, that was released Tuesday.
Moral destitution, he said, "consists of slavery to vice and sin" such as alcohol, drugs, gambling and pornography.
He noted that sometimes "unjust social conditions" like unemployment lead to this type of destitution by depriving people of the dignity of work and access to education and health care.
"In such cases, moral destitution can be considered impending suicide."
The pope has frequently railed about the excesses of capitalism and income disparity, and the Lenten document echoed that message.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.