Pope Francis today told representatives of workers, indigenous peoples, and marginalized groups that there is much they can do for society, despite the difficulties they face every day to simply have what they need to survive.
The Holy Father said this today in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, as he addressed this evening the 2nd World Meeting of Popular Movements.
Today, he referred to his speech from last year’s meeting, when he encouraged the popular movements to continue to strive for their right to the three T’s: tierra, techo and trabajo, which the Vatican translated to English as the three L’s: land, lodging and labor.
The Pope’s address this evening followed a lengthy intervention from President Evo Morales.
The Holy Father stuck to his text more than is customary for him, acknowledging about half way through that it was a long address, saying jokingly, “This priest talks for a long time, it seems, no?”
The outline of his talk was, however, a simple three points: change is needed; you are sowers of change; and there are three concrete points to work on.
The first task the Pope gave the workers, indigenous peoples and grass-roots organizations regards the economy: “to put the economy at the service of peoples. Human beings and nature must not be at the service of money. Let us say NO to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth.”
“Along this path, popular movements play an essential role, not only by making demands and lodging protests, but even more basically by being creative. You are social poets: creators of work, builders of housing, producers of food, above all for people left behind by the world market.”
The 78-year-old Pontiff said that he has seen first hand such successes: “a variety of experiences where workers united in cooperatives and other forms of community organization” and were able to “create work where there were only crumbs of an idolatrous economy.”
“The second task is to unite our peoples on the path of peace and justice,” the Holy Father said.
“The world’s peoples want to be artisans of their own destiny,” he affirmed. “They want to advance peacefully towards justice. They do not want forms of tutelage or interference by which those with greater power subordinate those with less. They want their culture, their language, their social processes and their religious traditions to be respected. No actual or established power has the right to deprive peoples of the full exercise of their sovereignty. Whenever they do so, we see the rise of new forms of colonialism which seriously prejudice the possibility of peace and justice.”
The Argentine Pontiff warned against new forms of colonialism.
“The new colonialism takes on different faces,” he said. “At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain ‘free trade’ treaties, and the imposition of measures of ‘austerity’ which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor.”
“At other times, under the noble guise of battling corruption, the narcotics trade and terrorism – grave evils of our time which call for coordinated international action – we see states being saddled with measures which have little to do with the resolution of these problems and which not infrequently worsen matters,” he continued. “Similarly, the monopolizing of the communications media, which would impose alienating examples of consumerism and a certain cultural uniformity, is another one of the forms taken by the new colonialism. It is ideological colonialism. As the African bishops have observed, poor countries are often treated like ‘parts of a machine, cogs on a gigantic wheel.'”
Finally, the Holy Father referenced the theme of his recent encyclical in saying the popular movements must work to defend Mother Earth.
“Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity,” he said. “Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin. […] We cannot allow certain interests – interests which are global but not universal – to take over, to dominate states and international organizations, and to continue destroying creation. People and their movements are called to cry out, to mobilize and to demand – peacefully, but firmly – that appropriate and urgently-needed measures be taken. I ask you, in the name of God, to defend Mother Earth.”
In your hands
The Pope concluded by reiterating that his listeners, despite their challenges, have an important role to play.
“The future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites,” he said. “It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organize. It is in their hands, which can guide with humility and conviction this process of change. I am with you. Let us together say from the heart: no family without lodging, no rural worker without land, no laborer without rights, no people without sovereignty, no individual without dignity, no child without childhood, no young person without a future, no elderly person without a venerable old age. Keep up your struggle and, please, take great care of Mother Earth. I pray for you and with you.”
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