You cannot assert yourself by destroying others, Pope Francis has said, decrying violence.
Pope Francis stressed this during the Mass for the Progress of the Peoples over which he presided in Temuco, Jan. 17, 2018, during his Apostolic Visit to Chile and Peru, Jan. 15-22.
Temuco, in the region of Araucanìa, home to a Chilean indigenous community, known as the Mapuche, some of whom were present at the Mass, welcoming the Pope in traditional garments and with song.
“Here,” the Pope said, “I would like to pause and greet in a special way the members of the Mapuche people, as well as the other indigenous peoples who dwell in these southern lands: the Rapanui (from Easter Island), the Aymara, the Quechua and the Atacameños, and many others.”
While noting how tourists likely would enjoy these beautiful lands, Francis recalled the “sorrow that cannot be silenced” there and “the injustices of centuries that everyone sees taking place.”
In the context of thanksgiving for this land and its people, but also of sorrow and pain, he said, we celebrate this Eucharist. “We do so in this Maquehue aerodrome, which was the site of grave violations of human rights.”
“We offer this Mass for all those who suffered and died, and for those who daily bear the burden of those many injustices. The sacrifice of Jesus on the cross bears all the sin and pain of our peoples, in order to redeem it.”
Reflecting on today’s Gospel according to St. John, when Jesus prays to the Father ‘that they may all be one,’ Francis noted that at a crucial moment in His own life, He stops to plea for unity.
“Today we want to cling to this prayer of Jesus, to enter with him into this garden of sorrows with those sorrows of our own, and to ask the Father, with Jesus, that we too may be one. May confrontation and division never gain the upper hand among us.”
One of the main temptations that must be resisted, the Pope said, is that of confusing unity with uniformity. He reminded that Jesus does not ask his Father that all may be equal or identical, for unity is not “meant to neutralize or silence differences,” nor “an idol or the result of forced integration,” nor “harmony bought at the price of leaving some people on the fringes.”
Rather, he highlighted, unity is a “reconciled diversity, for it will not allow personal or community wrongs to be perpetrated in its name.” Such unity, he stressed, requires that everyone listens to one another, but even more importantly, that all esteem one another.
We cannot accept any means of attaining unity, if it is not to be built on esteem and solidarity, he said. For instance, two kinds of violence actually threaten unity and reconciliation, rather than encourage them, he said.
“First, we have to be on our guard against coming up with “elegant” agreements that will never be put into practice. Nice words, detailed plans – necessary as these are – but, when unimplemented, end up “erasing with the elbow, what was written by the hand”. This is one kind of violence, because it frustrates hope.”
Secondly, he stressed, we must insist that a culture of mutual esteem may not be based on acts of violence and destruction that end up taking human lives.
“You cannot assert yourself by destroying others, because this only leads to more violence and division. Violence begets violence, destruction increases fragmentation and separation. Violence eventually makes a most just cause into a lie. That is why we say “no to destructive violence” in either of its two forms.”
Those two approaches, he said, are “like the lava of a volcano that wipes out and burns everything in its path, leaving in its wake only barrenness and desolation.”
A path of “active non-violence,” he said, is needed “as a style of politics for peace”.
“Let us seek, and never tire of seeking, dialogue for the sake of unity,” he said, noting: “That is why we cry out: Lord, make us artisans of your unity.”
“All of us, to a certain extent, are people of the earth (cf. Gen 2:7). All of us are called to “the good life” (Küme Mongen), as the ancestral wisdom of the Mapuche people reminds us. How far we have to go, and how much we still have to learn! Küme Mongen, a deep yearning that not only rises up from our hearts, but resounds like a loud cry, like a song, in all creation.”
Pope Francis concluded, saying: Therefore, brothers and sisters, for the children of this earth, for the children of their children, let us say with Jesus to the Father: may we too be one; make us artisans of unity.
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