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In a speech addressed to the members of social movements from almost 40 countries, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Pope Francis, echoed several of the ideas proposed at the previous meeting held in 2014 in Rome, which are also included in the recent publication “Laudato Si”, known as the “green encyclical” for the environmental nature of its contents. This time, in an hour-long speech, the Pope reproduced several of the analyses, demands and criticism developed by the social movements in the past decades.
Before addressing the audience, the Pope, together with Bolivian President Evo Morales, listened to the reading of the Letter from Santa Cruz written by the delegations of social movements during the World Meeting of Social Movements (EMMP).
From the start, Francisco urged to recognize “the need for change”, as a response to the situation of “so many landless peasants, so many families without a roof, so many workers without rights, so many people injured in their dignity”, and that “the land, water, air and all beings are under permanent threat”. According to him, the causes of this are “structural” and demanded to recognize that “these destructive realities respond to a global system”.
As stated by him many times and in many documents, he criticized once again the “god money”, this time specifically identifying the capital (referring to its dominance as a “subtle dictatorship”) as a problem: “When capital becomes an idol and runs the choices of human beings, when the search for money rules the entire socioeconomic system, society is ruined, human beings are condemned and turned into slaves, solidarity between humans is destroyed, one people against the other, and as we´ve seen, even our common home is at risk”.
Based on this, the Pope considered that organized social movements are the ones who should search and give answers to the needs for change: “I dare say that the future of humankind is, to a large extent, in your hands, in your ability to organize and promote creative alternatives, in the daily struggle for work, roof and land, and also in your participation in the main processes of change, national changes, regional changes and global changes”.
Over half of Bergoglio´s speech focused on the development of three proposals to give answers to the problems diagnosed, although he warned: “Don´t expect from this Pope a recipe. Neither the Pope nor the Church have the monopoly of interpreting the social reality or proposing solutions to contemporary problems”.
The ideas revolved around “placing economy at the service of the Peoples”, “joining peoples in the path to peace and justice” and “defending Mother Earth”. About this, the Pope criticized again the economy as “an accumulation mechanism” and highlighted the key contribution of social movements with “workers united in cooperatives and other forms of community organization”.
The development of the second proposal included criticism to the mechanisms and structures of the system: “The new colonialism adopts different faces. Sometimes, it is the anonymous power of the idol “money”: corporations, loaners, so-called “free trade” agreements and the imposition of “austerity” measures that always affect workers and the poor”.
As a fundamental part of this “new colonialism”, Bergoglio targeted the corporate communication media: “the monopolistic concentration of social communication media that attempt to impose alienating consumption practices and a certain cultural uniformity (…) is an ideological colonialism”.
Probably due to lack of time, the Pope excused himself for not developing this issue further, stating that he would mention what was included in the “Laudato Si” encyclical.
Among the audience of the social movements present at Fexpocruz (the space where the event took place) not everyone was Catholic, of course. In different conversations with the participants it was possible to verify a widespread satisfaction with the Pope´s words. Nelly Marichal Hernandez, of the Uruguayan Rural Women Network said: “I feel he has delegated a huge responsibility on the social movements”.
Some questioned how and when the Catholic Church would implement in practice the speech of the new Pope: “We in Peru have Cardinal Cipriani, who instead of being on our side, on the side of the excluded people, he is in favor of mining companies and is an active member of mining company Yanacocha. So, while the Pope´s speech is alright, and he is on our side, we ask him to see how his representatives are acting, how they are operating”, said Lourdes Huanca, peasant leader of the National Federation of Peasant, Artisan, Indigenous, Native and Worker Women of Peru (FEMUCARINAP) to Real World Radio.
The great absence in Bergoglio´s speech was the struggle of rural and urban women. Instead, he made reference to women in their roles as mothers, using an analogy with Virgin Mary to discuss their value. Francisca “Pancha” Rodriguez, leader of the National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women (ANAMURI) of Chile, said to Real World Radio during the EMMP that organized women “demand the Church to react to its conservative position about women and the bodies of women”.
Imagen: Lidyane Ponciano
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