Populist Pope to Peoples’ Movements: ‘I Unite My Voice With Yours’

tolaw_femmesThis morning Pope Francis addressed representatives from popular movements for social justice from around the world. I can’t find a raw transcript, but reading the reports below will give you a taste of his salty flavor!

#Favorite Pope Quote: “Solidarity, understood in its most profound sense, is a way of making history.”

#Favorite Pope Quote: “It is not possible to tackle poverty by promoting containment strategies to merely reassure, rendering the poor ‘domesticated,’ harmless and passive.”

#Favorite Pope Quote: “Creation is not our property, that we may exploit as we please; far less so, the property of the few.”

#Favorite Pope Quote: “Christians have something very good, a guide to action, a revolutionary programme, we might say. I strongly recommend that you read it. It’s called the Beatitudes”.

Below are two reports that give significant quotes from Pope Francis’ talk:

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis met on Tuesday with participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements which is holding a conference here in Rome to discuss problems facing the poor, the unemployed and those who’ve lost their land. The group chose to hold their three-day conference here because of Pope Francis’ particular attention to the struggles of the poor.

“This meeting of Popular Movements is a sign, a great sign,” Pope Francis told his audience. “You came to be in the presence of God, of the church… [to speak about] a reality that is often silenced. The poor not only suffer from injustice, but they also fight against it.”

The Holy Father also emphasized that it is not sufficient to be content with “illusory promises,” and that anesthetizing or taming problems at hand does not solve them. He called for solidarity amidst trying times. “Solidarity is a word that…means more than some generous, sporadic acts. It is to think and act in terms of the community…It is also to fight against the structural causes of poverty, inequality, unemployment, and [loss of] land, housing, and social and labour rights. It is to confront the destructive effects of the ‘Empire of Money:’ forcible displacements and migrations, human and drug trafficking, war, violence, and all of these realities that many of you suffer and that we all are called to address and transform. Solidarity, understood in its most profound sense, is a way of making history, and that is what the Popular Movements movement is doing,” he said.

Pope Francis spoke about the monopolization of land, deforestation, appropriation of water, and inadequate agrochemicals, which have deprived many farmers of sufficient land. He pointed out that in rural communities, land is ingrained in lifestyle and culture. For these afflicted farmers, separation from land is not purely physical, it is also “existential and spiritual,” he said. Additionally, the Pope said the need for agricultural reform is ingrained in the Church’s social doctrine. “Please,” he urged, “continue to fight for the dignity of rural families, for water, for life and for all that can benefit from the fruits of land.”

Also on the agenda were the problems of housing and employment. Insisting that every family has a right to a home, the Pope said, “Today there are many families without housing, either because they never had it or because they lost it for various reasons.” The Holy Father stressed that this was unacceptable; that in neighbourhoods families grow and plant their foundations. It is a shame, he said, that in large cities there is an abundance of neglect in regards to housing “millions of our brothers and neighbours, including children.”

The Pope went on to renounce the use of euphemisms to soften the harsh realities that plague society today. Specifically, he referred to the use of the term, “street situation,” which is used to describe the homeless. “We live in cities that build towers, malls, and businesses, but abandon the parts where the marginalized reside – the peripheries.”

Lastly, the Pope spoke about the growing problem of unemployment in Europe and around the world. “Today, the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression has taken on a new dimension,” he said. “The centre of our whole social and economic system needs to be about the person, the image of God, created for the universe.” Instead, we live in a world that is largely infatuated with the attainment of wealth, and that the economy is prioritized over the human person. He pointed out that the unemployment of the youth in Italy has reached 40%; and that in some parts of Europe, that number is even higher. “We need to change this,” he said. “We need to return to making human dignity the centre [of society]… and we need to create the alternative societal structures that we need.”

“I want to unite my voice with yours in this fight,” Pope Francis said to the group. “I know that among you are persons of different religions, professions, ideas, cultures, and continents. We are practicing here a culture of meeting that is removed from xenophobia, discrimination and intolerance that we so often see.”

Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Synod Hall the Holy Father met with participants in the World Meeting of Popular Movements (27 to 29 October), organised by the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” in collaboration with the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences and with the leaders of various movements.

The Pope spoke about the term solidarity, “a word that is not always well accepted”, that is much maligned and almost “unrepeatable”; however it is a word that indicates much more than a few sporadic acts of generosity. It means thinking and acting in terms of community, of prioritising the life of all over and above the appropriation of goods by the few. It also means fighting the structural causes of poverty, inequality, unemployment, lack of land and housing, and the denial of social and labour rights. It means facing the destructive effects of the empire of money: forced displacement, painful migration, human trafficking, drugs, war, violence and all these situations that many of you suffer and that we are all called upon to transform. Solidarity, in its deepest sense, is a way of making history and this is what the popular movements do”.

He went on to remark that this meeting does not correspond to any form of ideology and that the movements work not with ideas, but with reality. “It is not possible to tackle poverty by promoting containment strategies to merely reassure, rendering the poor ‘domesticated’ , harmless and passive”, he continued. “This meeting corresponds to a more concrete desire, that any father or mother would want for their children: an aspiration that should be within the reach of all but which we sadly see is increasingly unavailable to the majority: land, housing and work. It is strange, but if I talk about this, there are those who think that the Pope is communist”.

“Today, the phenomenon of exploitation and oppression assumes a new dimension, a graphical and hard edge of social injustice: those that cannot be integrated, the marginalised, are discarded, “cast-offs”. This is the throwaway culture … This happens when the centre of an economic system is the god of money and not humanity, the human person. At the centre of every social or economic system there must be the person, the image of God, created as the denominator of the universe. When humanity is displaced and supplanted by money, this disruption of values occurs”.

Pope Francis mentioned the problem of unemployment, and added that “every worker, whether or not he is part of the formal system of paid work, has the right to fair remuneration, social security and a pension. ‘Cartoneros’, those who live by recycling waste, street vendors, garment makers, craftspeople, fishermen, farmers, builders, miners, workers in companies in receivership, cooperatives and common trades that are excluded from employment rights, who are denied the possibility of forming trades unions, who do not have an adequate or stable income. Today I wish to unite my voice to theirs and to accompany them in their struggle”.

He went on the mention the theme of peace and ecology. “We cannot strive for land, housing, or work if we are not able to maintain peace or if we destroy the planet. … Creation is not our property, that we may exploit as we please; far less so, the property of the few. Creation is a gift, a wonderful gift that God gave us, to care for and to use for the benefit of all, always with respect and gratitude”.

“Why, instead of this, are we accustomed to seeing decent work destroyed, the eviction of many families, the expulsion of peasants from the land, war and the abuse of nature? Because this system has removed humanity from the centre and replaced it with something else! Because of the idolatrous worship of money! Because of the globalisation of indifference – ‘what does it matter to me what happens to others, I’ll defend myself’”. Because the world has forgotten God, the Father: it has become an orphan because it has turned aside from God”.

He emphasised that “Christians have something very good, a guide to action, a revolutionary programme, we might say. I strongly recommend that you read it, that you read the Beatitudes”.

He concluded by highlighting the importance of walking together and remarking that “popular movements express the urgent need to revitalise our democracies, that are so often hijacked by many factors. It is impossible to imagine a future for society without the active participation of the majority, and this role extends beyond the logical procedures of formal democracy”.

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