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Friday, July 10, 2015

“Transform the logic of wastefulness into the logic of communion and community”: Francis inaugurates the Fifth National Eucharistic Congress in Bolivia

Vatican City, 10 July 2015 (VIS) “The Eucharist, bread broken for the life of the world” is the theme of the Fifth National Eucharistic Congress of Bolivia, which the Holy Father inaugurated yesterday with the celebration of Mass in Plaza del Cristo Redentor in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Francis dedicated his homily to the sharing of bread, which Jesus distributed to the multitude with the same hands He raised to heaven to bless God, before almost two million faithful gathered in the square and in the adjacent streets where maxi-screens had been installed.

The readings and prayers of the celebration were in Spanish and in indigenous languages: Guarani, Quechua and Aimara. The passage from the Gospel of St. Mark recounted the multiplication of the loaves and fishes.

“We have come from a variety of places, areas and villages, to celebrate the living presence of God among us”, said the Pope. “We have travelled from our homes and communities to be together as God’s holy People. The cross and the mission image remind us of all those communities which were born of the name of Jesus in these lands. We are their heirs. The Gospel which we just heard speaks of a situation much like our own. Like those four thousand people who gathered to hear Jesus, we too want to listen to His words and to receive His life. Like them, we are in the presence of the Master, the Bread of Life.

“I am moved to see so many mothers carrying their children on their shoulders, like so many of you here. Carrying them, you bring your lives, the future of your people. You bring all your joys and hopes. You bring the blessing of the earth and all its fruits. You bring the work of your hands, hands which work today in order to weave tomorrow’s hopes and dreams. But those people’s shoulders were also weighed down by bitter disappointments and sorrows, scarred by experiences of injustice and of justice denied. They bore on their shoulders all the joy and pain of their land. You too bear the memory of your own people. Because every people has a memory, a memory which is passed on from generation to generation, a memory which continues to move forward. Frequently we tire of this journey. Frequently we lack the strength to keep hope alive. How often have we experienced situations which dull our memory, weaken our hope and make us lose our reason for rejoicing! And then a kind of sadness takes over. We think only of ourselves, we forget that we are a people which is loved, a chosen people. And the loss of that memory disorients us, it closes our heart to others, and especially to the poor.

“We may feel the way the disciples did, when they saw the crowds of people gathered there. They begged Jesus to send them away, since it was impossible to provide food for so many people. Faced with so many kinds of hunger in our world, we can say to ourselves: 'Things don’t add up; we will never manage, there is nothing to be done'. And so our hearts yield to despair. A despairing heart finds it easy to succumb to a way of thinking which is becoming ever more widespread in our world. It is a mentality in which everything has a price, everything can be bought, everything is negotiable. This way of thinking has room only for a select few, while it discards all those who are 'unproductive', unsuitable or unworthy, since clearly those people don’t 'add up'. But Jesus once more turns to us and says: 'They don’t need to go away; you yourselves, give them something to eat'.

"Those words of Jesus have a particular resonance for us today: No one needs to go away, no one has to be discarded; you yourselves, give them something to eat. Jesus speaks these words to us, here in this square. Yes, no one has to be discarded; you, give them something to eat. Jesus’ way of seeing things leaves no room for the mentality which would cut bait on the weak and those most in need. Taking the lead, He gives us His own example, He shows us the way forward. What He does can be summed up in three words. He takes a little bread and some fish, He blesses them and then gives them to His disciples to share with the crowd. This is how the miracle takes place. It is not magic or sorcery. With these three gestures, Jesus is able to turn a mentality which discards others into a mindset of communion and community. I would like briefly to look at each of these actions.

“Taking. This is the starting-point: Jesus takes His own and their lives very seriously. He looks at them in the eye, and He knows what they are experiencing, what they are feeling. He sees in those eyes all that is present in the memory and the hearts of his people. He looks at it, He ponders it. He thinks of all the good which they can do, all the good upon which they can build. But He is not so much concerned about material objects, cultural treasures or lofty ideas. He is concerned with people. The greatest wealth of a society is measured by the lives of its people, it is gauged by its elderly, who pass on their knowledge and the memory of their people to the young. Jesus never detracts from the dignity of anyone, no matter how little they possess or seem capable of contributing.

“Blessing. Jesus takes what is given Him and blesses His heavenly Father. He knows that everything is God’s gift. So He does not treat things as “objects”, but as part of a life which is the fruit of God’s merciful love. He values them. He goes beyond mere appearances, and in this gesture of blessing and praise He asks the Father for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Blessing has this double aspect: thanksgiving and transformative power. t is a recognition that life is always a gift which, when placed in the hands of God, starts to multiply. Our Father never abandons us; he makes everything multiply.

“Giving. With Jesus, there can be no 'taking' which is not a 'blessing', and no blessing which is not also a 'giving'. Blessing is always mission, its purpose is to share what we ourselves have received. For it is only in giving, in sharing, that we find the source of our joy and come to experience salvation. Giving makes it possible to refresh the memory of God’s holy people, called and sent forth to bring the joy of salvation to others. The hands which Jesus lifts to bless God in heaven are the same hands which gave bread to the hungry crowd. We can imagine how those people passed the loaves of bread and the fish from hand to hand, until they came to those farthest away. Jesus generated a kind of electrical current among His followers, as they shared what they had, made it a gift for others, and so ate their fill. Unbelievably, there were even leftovers: enough to fill seven baskets. A memory which is taken, blessed and given always satisfies people’s hunger.

“The Eucharist is 'bread broken for the life of the world'. That is the theme of the Fifth Eucharistic Congress to be held in Tarija, which today we inaugurate. The Eucharist is a sacrament of communion, which draws us out of our individualism in order to live together as disciples. It gives us the certainty that all that we have, all that we are, if it is taken, blessed and given, can, by God’s power, by the power of His love, become bread of life for all. The Church is a community of remembrance. Hence, in fidelity to the Lord’s command, she never ceases to say: 'Do this in remembrance of me'. Generation after generation, throughout the world, she celebrates the mystery of the Bread of Life. She makes it present and she gives it to us. Jesus asks us to share in His life, and through us He allows this gift to multiply in our world. We are not isolated individuals, separated from one another, but rather a people of remembrance, a remembrance ever renewed and ever shared with others. A life of remembrance needs others. It demands exchange, encounter and a genuine solidarity capable of entering into the mindset of taking, blessing and giving. It demands the logic of love.

Pope Francis concluded his homily by recalling that Mary, like many of the mothers present, “bore in her heart the memory of her people. She pondered the life of her Son. She personally experienced God’s grandeur and joyfully proclaimed that He 'fills the hungry with good things'. Today may Mary be our model. Like her, may we trust in the goodness of the Lord, who does great things with the lowliness of his servants”.

To the Bolivian clergy: “To pass by without hearing the pain of our people is like listening to the word of God without letting it take root”

Vatican City, 10 July 2015 (VIS) - “How can you love God, whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother whom you do see?” was the question Pope Francis posed to the four thousand Bolivian priests, men and women religious and seminarians whom he met yesterday afternoon in the “Coliseo Don Bosco”, a school managed by Salesian Fathers. The Holy Father commented on the passage from the Gospel about the blind man Bartimaeus, a beggar who, hearing Jesus approach with the apostles and a large crowd of followers, calls out to be healed.

“If we translate this, forcing the language”, said the Pope, “around Jesus we find the bishops, priests, nuns, seminarians, active laypeople, all those who follow Jesus, listening to Him, and the faithful people of God”.

“Two things about this story jump out at us and make an impression”, remarked Francis. “On the one hand, there is the cry of a beggar, and on the other, the different reactions of the disciples. Let us think of the different reactions of the bishops, the priests, the nuns, the seminarians, and the cries that are heard or that go unheeded. It is as if the Evangelist wanted to show us the effect which Bartimaeus’ cry had on people’s lives, on the lives of Jesus’ followers. How did they react when faced with the suffering of that man on the side of the road, in his misery, whom nobody noticed, to whom nobody gave anything … who did not enter into that circle of the Lord's followers”.

The Gospel tells us of the three responses to the cry of the blind man: they passed by, they told him to be quiet, and they told him to take heart and get up.

“They passed by. Perhaps some of those who passed by did not even hear his shouting, because they were not listening. They were with Jesus … they wanted to hear Jesus. They did not listen. Passing by is the response of indifference, of avoiding other people’s problems because they do not affect us. It is not my problem. We do not hear them, we do not recognise them. Deafness. Here we have the temptation to see suffering as something natural, to take injustice for granted. And yes, there are people like this. I am here with God, with my consecrated life, and yes, it is natural that there are sick people … the poor … people who suffer; and so it is also natural that a cry or a plea for help does not attract my attention. And we say to ourselves, 'This is nothing unusual; this is the way things are'. It is the response born of a blind, closed heart, a heart which has lost the ability to be touched and hence the possibility to change. A heart used to passing by without letting itself be touched; a life which passes from one thing to the next, without ever sinking roots in the lives of the people around us, simply because it is part of the elite that follows the Lord. We could call this 'the spirituality of zapping'. It is always on the move, but it has nothing to show for it. There are people who keep up with the latest news, the most recent best sellers, but they never manage to connect with others, to strike up a relationship, to get involved, even with the Lord they are following, because deafness spreads.

“You may say to me, 'But these people were following the Master, they were busy listening to the words of the Master. They were intent on Him'. I think that this is one of the most challenging things about Christian spirituality. The Evangelist John tells us, 'How can you love God, Whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother whom you do see?'. One of the great temptations we encounter along the way, as we follow Jesus, is to separate these two things – listening to God and listening to our brother – which belong together. We need to be aware of this. The way we listen to God the Father is how we should listen to His faithful people. To pass by, without hearing the pain of our people, without sinking roots in their lives and in their world, is like listening to the word of God without letting it take root and bear fruit in our hearts. Like a tree, a life without roots is a one which withers and dies”.

The second response to Bartimaeus’ cry was to tell him to keep quiet. “Be quiet, don't bother us, don't disturb us, we who are engaged in community prayer, we who have attained a high level of spirituality. Do not bother us, do not disturb. Unlike the first response, this one hears, acknowledges, and makes contact with the cry of another person. It recognises that he or she is there, but reacts simply by scolding. There are bishops, priests, nuns, Popes, who wag their finger like this. … And the poor faithful people of God, how often they are affected by the bad mood or the personal situation of one of Jesus' followers. It is the attitude of some leaders of God’s people; they continually scold others, hurl reproaches at them, tell them to be quiet. 'Madam, take your crying child out of the church while I am preaching'. As if the cry of a child were not a sublime form of sermon'.

This is the drama of the isolated consciousness, of those disciples who think that the life of Jesus is only for those deserve it. At its basis there is a profound disdain for the holy faithful people of God. They seem to believe there is only room for the 'worthy', for the 'better people', and little by little they separate and differentiate themselves from the others. They have made their identity a badge of superiority. They are not pastors, but foremen: 'I am here, now get into your place'. They hear, but they don’t listen. The need to show that they are different has closed their heart. Their need to tell themselves, 'I am not like that person, like those people', not only cuts them off from the cry of their people, from their tears, but most of all from their reasons for rejoicing. Laughing with those who laugh, weeping with those who weep; all this is part of the mystery of a priestly heart”.

Thirdly, they told him to take heart and get up. “It is not so much a direct response to the cry of Bartimaeus as an echo, or a reflection, of the way Jesus Himself responded to the pleading of the blind beggar. In those who told him to take heart and get up, the beggar’s cry issued in a word, an invitation, a new and changed way of responding to God’s holy People. Unlike those who simply passed by, the Gospel says that Jesus stopped and asked what was happening. He stopped when someone cried out to Him. Jesus singled him out from the nameless crowd and got involved in his life. And far from ordering him to keep quiet, He asked him, 'What do you want me to do for you?'. He didn’t have to show that He was different, somehow apart; He didn’t decide whether Bartimaeus was worthy or not before speaking to him. He simply asked him a question, looked at him and sought to come into his life, to share his lot. And by doing this He gradually restored the man’s lost dignity; He included him. Far from looking down on him, Jesus was moved to identify with the man’s problems and thus to show the transforming power of mercy. There can be no compassion without stopping, hearing and showing solidarity with the other. Compassion is not about zapping, it is not about silencing pain, it is about the logic of love. A logic, a way of thinking and feeling, which is not grounded in fear but in the freedom born of love and of desire to put the good of others before all else. A logic born of not being afraid to draw near to the pain of our people. Even if often this means no more than standing at their side and praying with them.

“This is the logic of discipleship, it is what the Holy Spirit does with us and in us”, emphasised the Pope. “We are witnesses of this. One day Jesus saw us on the side of the road, wallowing in our own pain and misery, in our indifference. He did not close his ear to our cries. He stopped, drew near and asked what He could do for us. And thanks to many witnesses, who told us, 'Take heart; get up', gradually we experienced this merciful love, this transforming love, which enabled us to see the light. We are witnesses not of an ideology, of a recipe, of a particular theology. We are witnesses to the healing and merciful love of Jesus. We are witnesses of His working in the lives of our communities. This is the pedagogy of the Master, this is the pedagogy which God uses with His people. It leads us to passing from distracted zapping to the point where we can say to others: 'Take heart; get up. The Master is calling you'. Not so that we can be special, not so that we can be better than others, not so that we can be God’s functionaries, but only because we are grateful witnesses to the mercy which changed us. … And when you live in this way, there is joy and good cheer.

“On this journey we are not alone. We help one another by our example and by our prayers. We are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses. Let us think of Blessed Nazaria Ignacia de Santa Teresa de Jesus, who dedicated her life to the proclamation of God’s Kingdom through her care for the aged, her 'kettle of the poor' for the hungry, her homes for orphaned children, her hospitals for wounded soldiers and her creation of a women’s trade union to promote the welfare of women. Let us also think of Venerable Virginia Blanco Tardio, who was completely dedicated to the evangelisation and care of the poor and the sick”.

“These women, and so many other persons like them – anonymous, many of them – who follow Jesus, are an encouragement to us along our way”, exclaimed the bishop of Rome. “May we press forward with the help and cooperation of all. For the Lord wants to use us to make his light reach to every corner of our world”.

To popular movements: the universal destination of goods is not a figure of speech in the Church's social teaching

Vatican City, 10 July 2015 (VIS) – The Pope's day in Santa Cruz de la Sierra concluded with his participation in the Second World Meeting of Popular Movements, organised in collaboration with the Pontifical Council “Justice and Peace” and the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, attended by delegates from popular movements from all over the world representing workers in precarious employment and the informal economy, landless farmers, “villeros” (inhabitants of poor areas), indigenous peoples, immigrants, and social movements.

Also present were Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, president of “Justice and Peace”, and Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy. The first meeting took place in the Vatican in October 2014, and was attended by the president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who yesterday also presented a discourse in the Expo Feria centre, hosting the event in which three thousand people have participated.

The following is the full text of the discourse given by Pope Francis:

“Good afternoon! Several months ago, we met in Rome, and I remember that first meeting. In the meantime I have kept you in my thoughts and prayers. I am happy to see you again, here, as you discuss the best ways to overcome the grave situations of injustice experienced by the excluded throughout our world. Thank you, President Evo Morales, for your efforts to make this meeting possible. During our first meeting in Rome, I sensed something very beautiful: fraternity, determination, commitment, a thirst for justice. Today, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, I sense it once again. I thank you for that. I also know, from the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace headed by Cardinal Turkson, that many people in the Church feel very close to the popular movements. That makes me very happy! I am pleased to see the Church opening her doors to all of you, embracing you, accompanying you and establishing in each diocese, in every justice and peace commission, a genuine, ongoing and serious cooperation with popular movements. I ask everyone, bishops, priests and laity, as well as the social organisations of the urban and rural peripheries, to deepen this encounter.

“Today God has granted that we meet again. The Bible tells us that God hears the cry of his people, and I wish to join my voice to yours in calling for land, lodging and labour for all our brothers and sisters. I said it and I repeat it: these are sacred rights. It is important, it is well worth fighting for them. May the cry of the excluded be heard in Latin America and throughout the world.

“Let us begin by acknowledging that change is needed. Here I would clarify, lest there be any misunderstanding, that I am speaking about problems common to all Latin Americans and, more generally, to humanity as a whole. They are global problems which today no one state can resolve on its own. With this clarification, I now propose that we ask the following questions.

“Do we realise that something is wrong in a world where there are so many farmworkers without land, so many families without a home, so many labourers without rights, so many persons whose dignity is not respected? Do we realise that something is wrong where so many senseless wars are being fought and acts of fratricidal violence are taking place on our very doorstep? Do we realise something is wrong when the soil, water, air and living creatures of our world are under constant threat? So let’s not be afraid to say it: we need change; we want change.

“In your letters and in our meetings, you have mentioned the many forms of exclusion and injustice which you experience in the workplace, in neighbourhoods and throughout the land. They are many and diverse, just as many and diverse are the ways in which you confront them. Yet there is an invisible thread joining every one of those forms of exclusion: can we recognise it? These are not isolated issues. I wonder whether we can see that these destructive realities are part of a system which has become global. Do we realise that that system has imposed the mentality of profit at any price, with no concern for social exclusion or the destruction of nature?

“If such is the case, I would insist, let us not be afraid to say it: we want change, real change, structural change. This system is by now intolerable: farmworkers find it intolerable, labourers find it intolerable, communities find it intolerable, peoples find it intolerable … The earth itself – our sister, Mother Earth, as St. Francis would say – also finds it intolerable. We want change in our lives, in our neighbourhoods, in our everyday reality. We want a change which can affect the entire world, since global interdependence calls for global answers to local problems. The globalisation of hope, a hope which springs up from peoples and takes root among the poor, must replace the globalisation of exclusion and indifference.

“Today I wish to reflect with you on the change we want and need. You know that recently I wrote about the problems of climate change. But now I would like to speak of change in another sense. Positive change, a change which is good for us, a change – we can say – which is redemptive. Because we need it. I know that you are looking for change, and not just you alone: in my different meetings, in my different travels, I have sensed an expectation, a longing, a yearning for change, in people throughout the world. Even within that ever smaller minority which believes that the present system is beneficial, there is a widespread sense of dissatisfaction and even despondency. Many people are hoping for a change capable of releasing them from the bondage of individualism and the despondency it spawns.

“Time, my brothers and sisters, seems to be running out; we are not yet tearing one another apart, but we are tearing apart our common home. Today, the scientific community realises what the poor have long told us: harm, perhaps irreversible harm, is being done to the ecosystem. The earth, entire peoples and individual persons are being brutally punished. And behind all this pain, death and destruction there is the stench of what Basil of Caesarea called 'the dung of the devil'. An unfettered pursuit of money rules. The service of the common good is left behind. Once capital becomes an idol and guides people’s decisions, once greed for money presides over the entire socio-economic system, it ruins society, it condemns and enslaves men and women, it destroys human fraternity, it sets people against one another and, as we clearly see, it even puts at risk our common home.

“I do not need to go on describing the evil effects of this subtle dictatorship: you are well aware of them. Nor is it enough to point to the structural causes of today’s social and environmental crisis. We are suffering from an excess of diagnosis, which at times leads us to multiply words and to revel in pessimism and negativity. Looking at the daily news we think that there is nothing to be done, except to take care of ourselves and the little circle of our family and friends.

“What can I do, as collector of paper, old clothes or used metal, a recycler, about all these problems if I barely make enough money to put food on the table? What can I do as a craftsman, a street vendor, a trucker, a downtrodden worker, if I do not even enjoy workers’ rights? What can I do, a farmwife, a native woman, a fisher who can hardly fight the domination of the big corporations? What can I do from my little home, my shanty, my hamlet, my settlement, when I daily meet with discrimination and marginalisation? What can be done by those students, those young people, those activists, those missionaries who come to my neighbourhood with their hearts full of hopes and dreams, but without any real solution for my problems? A lot! They can do a lot. You, the lowly, the exploited, the poor and underprivileged, can do, and are doing, a lot. I would even say that the future of humanity is in great measure in your own hands, through your ability to organise and carry out creative alternatives, through your daily efforts to ensure the three 'L’s' (labour, lodging, land) and through your proactive participation in the great processes of change on the national, regional and global levels. Don’t lose heart!

“You are sowers of change. Here in Bolivia I have heard a phrase which I like: 'process of change'. Change seen not as something which will one day result from any one political decision or change in social structure. We know from painful experience that changes of structure which are not accompanied by a sincere conversion of mind and heart sooner or later end up in bureaucratisation, corruption and failure. That is why I like the image of a 'process', where the drive to sow, to water seeds which others will see sprout, replaces the ambition to occupy every available position of power and to see immediate results. Each of us is just one part of a complex and differentiated whole, interacting in time: peoples who struggle to find meaning, a destiny, and to live with dignity, to 'live well'.

“As members of popular movements, you carry out your work inspired by fraternal love, which you show in opposing social injustice. When we look into the eyes of the suffering, when we see the faces of the endangered campesino, the poor labourer, the downtrodden native, the homeless family, the persecuted migrant, the unemployed young person, the exploited child, the mother who lost her child in a shoot-out because the barrio was occupied by drug dealers, the father who lost his daughter to enslavement. When we think of all those names and faces, our hearts break because of so much sorrow and pain. And we are deeply moved. We are moved because 'we have seen and heard' not a cold statistic but the pain of a suffering humanity, our own pain, our own flesh. This is something quite different than abstract theorising or eloquent indignation. It moves us; it makes us attentive to others in an effort to move forward together. That emotion which turns into community action is not something which can be understood by reason alone: it has a surplus of meaning which only peoples understand, and it gives a special feel to genuine popular movements.

“Each day you are caught up in the storms of people’s lives. You have told me about their causes, you have shared your own struggles with me, and I thank you for that. You, dear brothers and sisters, often work on little things, in local situations, amid forms of injustice which you do not simply accept but actively resist, standing up to an idolatrous system which excludes, debases and kills. I have seen you work tirelessly for the soil and crops of campesinos, for their lands and communities, for a more dignified local economy, for the urbanisation of their homes and settlements; you have helped them build their own homes and develop neighbourhood infrastructures. You have also promoted any number of community activities aimed at reaffirming so elementary and undeniably necessary a right as that of the three 'L’s': land, lodging and labour.

“This rootedness in the barrio, the land, the office, the labour union, this ability to see yourselves in the faces of others, this daily proximity to their share of troubles and their little acts of heroism: this is what enables you to practice the commandment of love, not on the basis of ideas or concepts, but rather on the basis of genuine interpersonal encounter. We do not love concepts or ideas; we love people. Commitment, true commitment, is born of the love of men and women, of children and the elderly, of peoples and communities, of names and faces which fill our hearts. From those seeds of hope patiently sown in the forgotten fringes of our planet, from those seedlings of a tenderness which struggles to grow amid the shadows of exclusion, great trees will spring up, great groves of hope to give oxygen to our world.

“So I am pleased to see that you are working at close hand to care for those seedlings, but at the same time, with a broader perspective, to protect the entire forest. Your work is carried out against a horizon which, while concentrating on your own specific area, also aims to resolve at their root the more general problems of poverty, inequality and exclusion. I congratulate you on this. It is essential that, along with the defence of their legitimate rights, peoples and their social organisations be able to construct a humane alternative to a globalisation which excludes. You are sowers of change. May God grant you the courage, joy, perseverance and passion to continue sowing. Be assured that sooner or later we will see its fruits. Of the leadership I ask this: be creative and never stop being rooted in local realities, since the father of lies is able to usurp noble words, to promote intellectual fads and to adopt ideological stances. But if you build on solid foundations, on real needs and on the lived experience of your brothers and sisters, of campesinos and natives, of excluded workers and marginalised families, you will surely be on the right path.

“The Church cannot and must not remain aloof from this process in her proclamation of the Gospel. Many priests and pastoral workers carry out an enormous work of accompanying and promoting the excluded throughout the world, alongside cooperatives, favouring businesses, providing housing, working generously in the fields of health, sports and education. I am convinced that respectful cooperation with the popular movements can revitalise these efforts and strengthen processes of change.

“Let us always have at heart the Virgin Mary, a humble girl from small people lost on the fringes of a great empire, a homeless mother who could turn a stable for beasts into a home for Jesus with just a few swaddling clothes and much tenderness. Mary is a sign of hope for peoples suffering the birth pangs of justice. I pray that Our Lady of Mount Carmel, patroness of Bolivia, will allow this meeting of ours to be a leaven of change.

“Lastly, I would like us all to consider some important tasks for the present historical moment, since we desire a positive change for the benefit of all our brothers and sisters. We know this. We desire change enriched by the collaboration of governments, popular movements and other social forces. This too we know. But it is not so easy to define the content of change – in other words, a social program which can embody this project of fraternity and justice which we are seeking. So do not expect a recipe from this Pope. Neither the Pope nor the Church have a monopoly on the interpretation of social reality or the proposal of solutions to contemporary issues. I dare say that no recipe exists. History is made by each generation as it follows in the footsteps of those preceding it, as it seeks its own path and respects the values which God has placed in the human heart. I would like, all the same, to propose three great tasks which demand a decisive and shared contribution from popular movements.

“The first task is 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. The economy should not be a mechanism for accumulating goods, but rather the proper administration of our common home. This entails a commitment to care for that home and to the fitting distribution of its goods among all. It is not only about ensuring a supply of food or 'decent sustenance'. Nor, although this is already a great step forward, is it to guarantee the three 'L’s' of land, lodging and labour for which you are working. A truly communitarian economy, one might say an economy of Christian inspiration, must ensure peoples’ dignity and their 'general, temporal welfare and prosperity'. This includes the three 'L’s', but also access to education, health care, new technologies, artistic and cultural manifestations, communications, sports and recreation. A just economy must create the conditions for everyone to be able to enjoy a childhood without want, to develop their talents when young, to work with full rights during their active years and to enjoy a dignified retirement as they grow older. It is an economy where human beings, in harmony with nature, structure the entire system of production and distribution in such a way that the abilities and needs of each individual find suitable expression in social life. You, and other peoples as well, sum up this desire in a simple and beautiful expression: 'to live well'.

“Such an economy is not only desirable and necessary, but also possible. It is no utopia or chimera. It is an extremely realistic prospect. We can achieve it. The available resources in our world, the fruit of the intergenerational labours of peoples and the gifts of creation, more than suffice for the integral development of 'each man and the whole man'. The problem is of another kind. There exists a system with different aims. A system which, while irresponsibly accelerating the pace of production, while using industrial and agricultural methods which damage Mother Earth in the name of 'productivity', continues to deny many millions of our brothers and sisters their most elementary economic, social and cultural rights. This system runs counter to the plan of Jesus.

“Working for a just distribution of the fruits of the earth and human labour is not mere philanthropy. It is a moral obligation. For Christians, the responsibility is even greater: it is a commandment. It is about giving to the poor and to peoples what is theirs by right. The universal destination of goods is not a figure of speech found in the Church’s social teaching. It is a reality prior to private property. Property, especially when it affects natural resources, must always serve the needs of peoples. And those needs are not restricted to consumption. It is not enough to let a few drops fall whenever the poor shake a cup which never runs over by itself. Welfare programs geared to certain emergencies can only be considered temporary responses. They will never be able to replace true inclusion, an inclusion which provides worthy, free, creative, participatory and fraternal work.

“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. I have seen at first hand a variety of experiences where workers united in cooperatives and other forms of community organisation were able to create work where there were only crumbs of an idolatrous economy. Recuperated businesses, local fairs and cooperatives of paper collectors are examples of that popular economy which is born of exclusion and which, slowly, patiently and resolutely adopts fraternal forms which dignify it. How different this is than the situation which results when those left behind by the formal market are exploited like slaves!

“Governments which make it their responsibility to put the economy at the service of peoples must promote the strengthening, improvement, coordination and expansion of these forms of popular economy and communitarian production. This entails improving the processes of work, providing adequate infrastructures and guaranteeing workers their full rights in this alternative sector. When the state and social organisations join in working for the three 'L’s', the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity come into play; and these allow the common good to be achieved in a full and participatory democracy.

“The second task is to unite our peoples on the path of peace and justice. The world’s peoples want to be artisans of their own destiny. 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. For 'peace is founded not only on respect for human rights but also on respect for the rights of peoples, in particular the right to independence'. The peoples of Latin America fought to gain their political independence and for almost two centuries their history has been dramatic and filled with contradictions, as they have striven to achieve full independence.

“In recent years, after any number of misunderstandings, many Latin American countries have seen the growth of fraternity between their peoples. The governments of the region have pooled forces in order to ensure respect for the sovereignty of their own countries and the entire region, which our forebears so beautifully called the 'greater country'. I ask you, my brothers and sisters of the popular movements, to foster and increase this unity. It is necessary to maintain unity in the face of every effort to divide, if the region is to grow in peace and justice.

“Despite the progress made, there are factors which still threaten this equitable human development and restrict the sovereignty of the countries of the 'greater country' and other areas of our planet. The new colonialism takes on different faces. 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. The bishops of Latin America denounce this with utter clarity in the Aparecida Document, stating that 'financial institutions and transnational companies are becoming stronger to the point that local economies are subordinated, especially weakening the local states, which seem ever more powerless to carry out development projects in the service of their populations'. 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.

“Similarly, the monopolising 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'.

“It must be acknowledged that none of the grave problems of humanity can be resolved without interaction between states and peoples at the international level. Every significant action carried out in one part of the planet has universal, ecological, social and cultural repercussions. Even crime and violence have become globalised. Consequently, no government can act independently of a common responsibility. If we truly desire positive change, we have to humbly accept our interdependence. Interaction, however, is not the same as imposition; it is not the subordination of some to serve the interests of others. Colonialism, both old and new, which reduces poor countries to mere providers of raw material and cheap labour, engenders violence, poverty, forced migrations and all the evils which go hand in hand with these, precisely because, by placing the periphery at the service of the centre, it denies those countries the right to an integral development. That is inequality, and inequality generates a violence which no police, military, or intelligence resources can control.

“Let us say 'no' to forms of colonialism old and new. Let us say 'yes' to the encounter between peoples and cultures.0 Blessed are the peacemakers.

“Here I wish to bring up an important issue. Some may rightly say, 'When the Pope speaks of colonialism, he overlooks certain actions of the Church'. I say this to you with regret: many grave sins were committed against the native peoples of America in the name of God. My predecessors acknowledged this, CELAM has said it, and I too wish to say it. Like St. John Paul II, I ask that the Church 'kneel before God and implore forgiveness for the past and present sins of her sons and daughters'. I would also say, and here I wish to be quite clear, as was St. John Paul II: I humbly ask forgiveness, not only for the offences of the Church herself, but also for crimes committed against the native peoples during the so-called conquest of America.

“I also ask everyone, believers and non-believers alike, to think of those many bishops, priests and laity who preached and continue to preach the Good News of Jesus with courage and meekness, respectfully and pacifically; who left behind them impressive works of human promotion and of love, often standing alongside the native peoples or accompanying their popular movements even to the point of martyrdom. The Church, her sons and daughters, are part of the identity of the peoples of Latin America. An identity which here, as in other countries, some powers are committed to erasing, at times because our faith is revolutionary, because our faith challenges the tyranny of mammon. Today we are dismayed to see how in the Middle East and elsewhere in the world many of our brothers and sisters are persecuted, tortured and killed for their faith in Jesus. This too needs to be denounced: in this third world war, waged piecemeal, which we are now experiencing, a form of genocide is taking place, and it must end.

“To our brothers and sisters in the Latin American indigenous movement, allow me to express my deep affection and appreciation of their efforts to bring peoples and cultures together in a form of coexistence which I would call polyhedric, where each group preserves its own identity by building together a plurality which does not threaten but rather reinforces unity. Your quest for an interculturalism, which combines the defence of the rights of the native peoples with respect for the territorial integrity of states, is for all of us a source of enrichment and encouragement.

“The third task, perhaps the most important facing us today, is to defend Mother Earth. Our common home is being pillaged, laid waste and harmed with impunity. Cowardice in defending it is a grave sin. We see with growing disappointment how one international summit after another takes place without any significant result. There exists a clear, definite and pressing ethical imperative to implement what has not yet been done. We cannot allow certain interests – interests which are global but not universal – to take over, to dominate states and international organisations, and to continue destroying creation. People and their movements are called to cry out, to mobilise 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. I have duly addressed this issue in my Encyclical Letter 'Laudato Si’'.

“In conclusion, I would like to repeat: the future of humanity does not lie solely in the hands of great leaders, the great powers and the elites. It is fundamentally in the hands of peoples and in their ability to organise. 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 labourer 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, and I ask God our Father to accompany you and to bless you, to fill you with His love and defend you on your way by granting you in abundance that strength which keeps us on our feet: that strength is hope, the hope which does not disappoint. Thank you and I ask you, please, to pray for me”.

Today, Friday 10 July, the Holy Father will visit the detainees in Palmasola prison and will meet privately with the bishops of Bolivia. At 12.45 p.m. local time (6.45 p.m. Italian time) he will arrive at Viru Viru airport in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, where he will depart by air for Paraguay, the final stage of his apostolic trip.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 10 July 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Bishop Dominique Lebrun of Saint-Etienne, France, as metropolitan archbishop of Rouen (area 4,228, population 868,500, Catholics 652,000, priests 135, permanent deacons 19, religious 218), France.

- Fr. George Bugeja, O.F.M., as coadjutor of the apostolic vicariate of Tripoli (area 1,000,000, population 6,204,000, Catholics 50,000, priests 1, religious 11), Libya. The bishop-elect was born in Xaghara, Malta in 1962, gave his solemn vows in 1983, and was ordained a priest in 1986. He holds a diploma in journalism and has served in a number of pastoral and administrative roles including guardian of the communities of Hamrun, Rabat, Gozo and Sliema; parish priest in Sliiema; auditor of the ecclesiastical tribunal and official in the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. He is currently guardian of the convent of St. Anthony of Padua in Ghajnsielem, Gozo.


Vatican City, 10 July 2015 (VIS) – Tomorrow, Saturday 11 July, an extraordinary edition of the Vatican Information Service bulletin will be transmitted due to the Pope's apostolic trip to Latin America.
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