The presentation took place yesterday of the book “The Irruption of Popular Movements: The Rerum Novarum of Our Time,” which includes a presentation by Pope Francis.
Intervening at the event, moderated by Alessandro Gisotti, Deputy Editorial Director of the Dicastery for Communication, were: Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America (PCAL); Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson, Prefect of the Department for Integral Human Development; Professor Guzman M. Carriquiry Lecour, Secretary of PCAL and Professor Gianni La Bella.
The Popular Movements
As the description of the book points out, it’s difficult to define what is understood by Popular Movement: “they are man and women that represent a great social alternative, the hope that ‘everything can change.’ This category includes landless peasants, fishermen, homeless inhabitants of work areas, rural communities, illegal occupants, squatters, home, and domestic workers, second-hand traders, traveling salesmen, working-class workers of popular production, workers that recover businesses or factories that have been abandoned or destroyed.”
On the other hand, in his presentation the Pope maintains that Popular Movements “represent a great social alternative, a profound cry, a sign of contradiction, a hope that ‘everything can change’” and he reminds that people that live in the peripheries — territorial and existential — are ”a seed, a renewal that, like the mustard seed, will bear much fruit” and are “the lever of a great social transformation.”
This volume, published by the Libreria Editrice Vaticana, and prepared by PCAL, brings together the texts of the world meetings of Popular Movements, which took place in Rome in 2014, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, in 2015 and again in Rome in 2016.
Therefore, the text includes five years of reflection on the work of thousands of Associations that fight for a just and inclusive style of development.
In addition to the Holy Father’s presentation, the book has a Preface by Guzman M. Carriquiry Lecour and Gianni La Bella, and an Introduction by Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson.
The Rerum Novarum Encyclical
As the title suggests, the irruption of Popular Movements in our time could be a new Rerum Novarum.
According to the catholic.net portal, on May 15, 1891, at the height of the Industrial Revolution, Pope Leo XIII published an encyclical entitled Rerum Novarum.
Initially the Church’s position, in face of this problem, was limited to charitable aid; however, given the terrible exploitation of workers, the Church couldn’t ignore the fact that human rights were being violated. It was no longer a question of charity, but of social justice and Pope Leo XIII decided to involve himself more with the mentioned encyclical.
His response, included in this document, highlighted the fact that the State, the Church, the worker, and the businessman had to work together: the Church should be concerned with the religious and moral aspects; the State must intervene so that justice prevails, and workers and businessmen must organize Associations that protect them (trade unions).
Pontifical Commission for Latin America
The Pontifical Commission for Latin America is an organism of the Roman Curia created in 1958, whose main function is to “advise and help the particular Churches in Latin America” and “to study the questions that refer to the life and progress of the said Churches, especially being at the disposition, both the interested Dicasteries of the Curia given their competence, as well as the Churches themselves to resolve these questions.” (John Paul II, Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, article 83).
The administration of this Commission has Cardinal Marc Ouellet as President, and Guzman M. Carriquiri Lecour as Secretary, who is also co-author of this work.